Stating that the Disability Bill 2013, approved by the cabinet, is discriminatory and does not address the problems of the disabled who constitute 2 per cent of the country’s population, professors of NALSAR University, which was selected to draft the bill, announced that they are dissociating themselves from the approved bill.
Pointing out the flaws in the approved bill, Amita Dhanda, professor of law at the university, said people with disabilities fought for some benefits but the new legislation cancelled those.
“The legislation we wanted to make was to give everybody full capacity to make their own decisions on life. If they need help, they should get it. But the government okayed the bill which says that for people with disabilities, especially mental illness, a guardian will be appointed to take decisions for rest of their life. This is slavery because somebody else will be taking decisions for disabled people,” she regretted.
Amita said their 2011 draft bill envisaged an independent regulatory authority as well as specialised tribunals to redress the grievances of persons with disabilities and their families.
The final bill provides reservation for the disabled only in institutions that are aided, funded or owned by the government while Supreme Court held in 2013 that establishments must include private institutions.
The 2011 Bill takes everyone on board in terms of widening the definition of ‘persons with disability’ and covers all workplaces, educational institutions, hospitals, health care providers, government services, private organisation or societies.
University vice-chancellor Faizan Mustafa said the university had been involved in the discourse on disability for 15 years and now felt offended. “The central government consulted us on drafting the bill. And we drafted it after consulting the disabled and their associations. The bill was later drafted in 11 languages and even in Braille. Now suddenly you are bringing a cabinet-approved bill which does not have resemblance with all these initiatives,” he said.
The university urged political parties to include rights of the disabled in their manifestos.