Diversity and Inclusion

Rights of People with Disabilities under the Rights of People with Disabilities Act

As the Supreme Court noted in the case of Jeeja Ghosh v SpriceJet, the reason why People with Disabilities (PwDs) feel handicapped is because society has failed to assimilate them into the mainstream. The recently notified Rights of Persons with Disabilities Rules (2017) is a step forward when it comes to assimilating PwDs into society. A follow-up to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, which was passed in 2016, the new rules have fixed some of the loopholes that existed in the old act and provided a more comprehensive set of rights for PwDs.

Who Does the Law Recognise?

The law recognises persons with long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which pose as a barrier to their full and effective participation in society equally with other. The new rules also extend to recognise acid attack survivors, people with Parkinson’s disease, Haemophilia, thalassemia, sickle-cell disease and mental illnesses. It also includes people with benchmark disabilities who require high support.

What Rights are PwDs Guaranteed?

  1. Rights against Discrimination

The head of every establishment, both government and private (with more than 20 employees), must ensure that rights and benefits provided to a PwD is not misused or denied. In the event that head of an establishment receives a complaint from an aggrieved person on the grounds of disability, he shall initiate action in accordance with the provision of the Act.

An aggrieved person may also file a complaint, along with his/her disability certificate and supporting documents to the Chief Commissioner or State Commissioner for PwDs by post, in person, by email or even through a representative.  The complaint shall be disposed of within a period of 60 days (contact information provided here).

  1. Rights to Employment

The law mandates every establishment, public or private (with more than 20 employees), to not only formulate an equal opportunity policy for persons with disabilities but to publish the policy, preferably on its website.

A workplace with twenty or more employees and the Government establishment must make the following known it its policy:

  • Facility and amenities to enable the effective discharge of duties.
  • List of posts available for PwDs.
  • The manner of selection for various posts, post-recruitments, and pre-promotion, training, preference in transfer and posting, special leave, preference in allotment of residential accommodation
  • Assistive devices, barrier free accessibility and other provisions for persons with disabilities,
  • Appointment of liaison officer by the establishment to look after the recruitment of person with disabilities and the provisions of facilities and amenities for such employees

The equal opportunity policy of a workplace with less than 20 employees, is required to contain only the list of facilities and amenities to be provided by the employers.

It is the right of every employee with a disability to be given the above mentioned in their workplace. In order to ensure that workplaces comply with the law, every establishment is required by law to maintain a record. This record must include the details of employees with disabilities as well as the facilities being provided to them. These records should be open to inspection by the concerned authorities.

The new rules also ensure that all establishments, both private and Government have a 4 per cent reservation for employees with disabilities.

  1. Right to Accessibility

Every establishment shall comply with standards specified by law relating to physical environment, transport and information and communication technology. Public buildings, buses, Government websites, documents placed on websites (which must be in ePUB or OCR format) must all comply to the standard of accessibility as per law and must be reviewed by the Central Government from time to time based on scientific knowledge and technology.

  1. Right at Educations Institutions 

All educational institutions, funded or recognised by the government or local authorities must ensure that they provide inclusive education (wherein students with out without disabilities can learn together) to children with disabilities.

In terms of Infrastructure and Facilities, all educational institutions must ensure that they make buildings, campus and various facilities accessible as well as provide reasonable accommodation according to the individual’s requirements. They must also be provided with transportation and in some cases, an attendant if the child has high support (i.e. any form of intensive support) needs.

The institution must also make certain Pedagogical Changes to overcome specific learning disabilities. These include – ensuring that the education to persons who are blind or deaf or both is imparted in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication. Children with disabilities must also be provided with education, sports and recreation opportunities.

Every child with benchmark disability between the age of six to eighteen years shall have the right to free education in a neighborhood school, or in a special school, of his choice. The persons with benchmark disabilities are also entitled to receive upper age relaxation of five years for admission in institutions of higher education.

  1. Right to a Certificate of Disability

Every PwD is entitled to apply for a certificate of disability, which is to be verified by the medical authority or any other notified competent authority as per the guidelines issued by the Central Government. This certificate must be issued within a month from the date of application.

The State Government or the Union Territory Administration shall ensure that the certificate of disability is granted on an online platform. Hereafter, the person shall be entitled to apply for facilities, concessions and benefits admissible for persons with disabilities under schemes of the Government and of non-Governmental organizations funded by the Government.

  1. Rights Against Being a Subject of Research

No person with disability shall be a subject of research except when the research involves physical impact on his body.

  1. Right to Vote

The Election Commission, in the Centre and State, has the duty to ensure that polling stations and all electoral materials are accessible to persons with disabilities.

Conclusion

The Disability Laws in India, much like any other law, is by no means perfect. However, in addition to being guaranteed these rights, it is vital for People with Disabilities to recognise their own rights to live a life of equality, dignity and respect.

Author: This post has been submitted by Moksha Sharma , as part of her assignment with Ungender Insights. Moksha Sharma is currently a student of Jindal Global Law School, Sonipat.  

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