December 06, 2015

Disabled Persons Organisations March to Parliament

Place the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 for Discussion in Parliament

AROUND ten thousand disabled persons from various parts of the country took out a march to parliament on December 3, 2015 coinciding with World Disability Day. Owing allegiance to the affiliates of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD), National Federation of the Blind and the National Association of the Blind apart from various independent Disabled Persons Organisations and NGOs, the protest was against the inordinate delay on the part of the central government in bringing the amendments and placing the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 for discussion in parliament.

The RPD Bill introduced during the fag end of the UPA government’s tenure was sent to the parliamentary standing committee of the ministry of social justice and empowerment owing to certain concerns raised by several disability rights organisations. However, the delay in introducing the amendments and placing them for discussion in parliament after several months since the parliamentary standing committee submitted its recommendations is inexplicable.

The protesters were addressed by leading office bearers of the various organisations. Brinda Karat, member of the Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) came to express solidarity with the protesters.

A memorandum was submitted to the minister for social justice and empowerment, Thaawar Chand Gehlot by a delegation from these organisations. They also met the president of India in the evening.

The memorandum noted that Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2014 was introduced by the previous government in Rajya Sabha which did not fully address the aspirations of persons with disabilities. It also sought to legitimise discrimination on the ground of disability under certain circumstances.  There were other various provisions which were contentious.  Consequently, various disability rights organisations including those endorsing this petition opposed the passage of the said bill without amendment and debate.

It also said that as a result of the campaign, the Bill was not passed and instead was referred to parliamentary standing committee of ministry of social justice and empowerment, which invited suggestions and after public hearings from stake holders finally submitted its report in May 2015 to the government incorporating various suggestions and recommendations made by disability rights organisations.  However, certain issues still remain unaddressed. 

The memorandum observed that, unfortunately the government is yet to publicly spell out its stand on the amendment of the Bill and its introduction after making the necessary amendments. It is for this reason that various disabled persons organisations have come together and have organised a march to parliament to demand that the government introduce the amendments to the Bill on the basis of recommendations of parliamentary standing committee as well as other suggestions given by various stakeholders and have a proper and extensive debate in the parliament in the ongoing winter session.

The signatory organisations to the memorandum were: National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled, National Federation of the Blind, National Association of the Blind, Paschim Banga Rajya Prathibandhi Sammelani, West Bengal, Tamilnadu Associationn for the Rights of Differently-Abled and Caregivers, Differently-Abled Welfare Federation, Kerala, Karnataka Rajya Angavikalara Mattu Palakara Okkota, Haryana Viklang Adhikar Manch, Vikalangula Hakkula Jathiya Vedika, Telangana, Gujarat Viklang Adhikar Manch, Human Rights Law Network, Delhi, Jharkhand Viklang Morcha, Lakshwadeep Disabled Association, Platform for Rights of Disabled, Orissa, National Association of the Blind, Delhi, Federation for Disability Rights, Delhi, Action for Autism, Delhi, Delhi Viklang Adhikar Manch, Sense International India and Yes We Can, Delhi.