About the New law on Disability

48 years after the independence, India enacted the ‘Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and full participation) Act, 1995’, even before signing UNCRPD on 30.3.2007 and ratifying it on 1.10.2007. However much it was appreciable, the Act had an array of limitations & inadequacies within it. It was very unfortunate that the country could have neither a new law or bring in amendments to make the law consonant to the UNCRPD even after ratifying it. It was towards the end of 2009, the GoI has come forward to amend the law as against the demand for a new law, because of the pressure caused by being an original member to CRPD. However, the mounting pressure by civil society organizations, particularly the disability organizations in India has made the GoI to decide with replacing the existing act with a new law.

To this extend, the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has constituted a 19+3 member committee under the chairmanship of Ms. Sudha Kaul to draft the new law. The committee has evolved a few sub-committees that have taken responsibility of drafting different chapters of the law. Centre for Disability studies of NALSAR has been appointed by the committee as the legal consultant to the committee.

The 1st meeting of the drafting committed held on 10th June 2010. In the meeting, many members stressed that the new law must reflect the spirit of the UNCRPD. The Chairperson observed that  at this stage the committee would look into various provisions of the present PwD Act, align them with UNCRPD, look into the addition of some more chapters if necessary, so that all the articles of UNCRPD based on rights of PwDs were covered including a focus on women with disabilities, non negotiable rights etc.

Although, the committee has so far completed 3 meetings and the original dead line was 12th August for all the sub-committees to submit their chapters, as we observed (10.9.2010), none of the sub-committees have completed any of their work. It is obvious that the committee will surely consume lots of time and public resources before it accomplish its task.