The Lok Sabha on Friday passed the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2016, two days after the Rajya Sabha passed it with amendments. The new Bill aims to secure and enhance the rights and entitlements of differently-abled citizens.
The Bill recognises more disabilities compared with the 1995 Act. It also stipulates a jail term of up to two years, in addition to a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh for any kind of discrimination against differently-abled people. The list of disabilities now includes mental illness, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and chronic neurological conditions, among others.
Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot said a scheme including a “universal identity card for the disabled” is in the pipeline, and a panel to monitor its progress had been approved. The proposed card will be linked to the Aadhaar card, Gehlot added.
However, the Lok Sabha witnessed a division on an amendment, with Congress and Telangana Rashtra Samithi members seeking to raise the reservation in the Bill from 4% to 5%. It was defeated by 121 to 43 votes.
The legislation also includes an increase in job reservations for persons with disabilities and a provision for free education to children between the ages of 6 and 18 years who suffer from any disability covered in the new Bill.
The amendments, which include greater accessibility to public transport, are in compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. They were approved by the Union Cabinet in 2014 based on the recommendations of the Sudha Kaul Committee, under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.