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“It is better to repeal the Disability Act and draft a new law,” feels Mukul Wasnik

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: In a meeting with a delegation from Disabled Rights Group (D.R.G.), on August 29, Mukul Wasnik, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, said he was seriously considering repealing the Disability Act of 1995 and to bring in a new law more in line with U.N.C.R.P.D. The delegation, led by Convenor, Javed Abidi, met the minister to protest against the proposed amendments to the Act and submitted a detailed letter apprising the Minister about the lacunae in the said document.

"There are close to a hundred amendments that are being proposed. Even I feel that it is better to repeal the Act and draft a new one," Wasnik said, almost in agreement with the sentiments of the D.R.G. delegation. He, however, mentioned that this would need indepth consultations with the Law Ministry.

Abidi said that it has been two years since India ratified U.N.C.R.P.D. "The proposed amendments leave out many issues like Right to Life, Access to Justice, Independent Living, etc. It would indeed be a step in the right direction for the Ministry to have a completely fresh look at the whole matter and to have a larger consultation," he said.

The Minister said that the proposed amendments will soon be made public for comments and the process of consultation will be open till the end of this year.

"This will be a very transparent process," Wasnik assured. "Our first step would be to consider all suggestions and inputs. Whether these could be put in as amendments or as a new law can be decided later," he added.

In recent days, an impression had been created in the disability sector that the Ministry is going to 'rush through' the amendments to the Disability Act of 1995. Wasnik emphatically quashed all such apprehensions. He assured the delegation that either the amendments or the new law will be placed before the Parliament only during the Budget session next year.

Another concern the sector had, the delegation told the Minister, is the definition of disability. "Different other fresh legislations like the Right to Education Act look at the Disability Act for defining disability. If the definition of disability is not inclusive, many people with disability are left out of the ambit of those legislations," said Radhika Alkazi, Managing Trustee and Director, A.S.T.H.A.

Abidi also told the Minister about the formation of N.C.P.E.D.P.'s Core Group on the issue of disability certificates. He expressed disappointment at the fact that while the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had nominated members to the Core Group, there was no one from the Social Justice Ministry.

Wasnik assured that he would look into it and also apprised the delegation of Ministry’s own attempts to simplify the process of issuing a disability certificate. Other members of the delegation included Dr. Achal Bhagat, G. Syamala, Dr. Shanti Auluck and Vandana Bedi.

Click here for full text of D.R.G.'s letter to Minister, Social Justice and Empowerment (WORD - 59.5 KB)