December 13, 2020

Problematic Amendments to the RCI Act

THE National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD), in a statement issued on December 10, has expressed its serious concern at the proposed amendments to the Rehabilitation Council of India Act (RCI Act). Enacted in 1992, the RCI is mandated, in the main, to regulate and monitor the training of rehabilitation professionals.

If the purported aim is to harmonise the RCI in tune with the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPD Act), it would have been prudent  to pass an alternate legislation, adopting a holistic approach to the myriad issues including the functioning and administration of the RCI, rather than make piecemeal amendments, the statement said. It needs to be noted that the RCI has been without a chairperson for years together and complaints against its functioning are galore.

What is more blatant is the stated objective of fine tuning it with the New Education Policy 2020. Apart from other things, the proposal is to convert the RCI into a “self-sustaining” body, within a period of four years. By implication, budgetary support to the RCI would be withdrawn and institutions and professionals seeking registration with the RCI would have to shell out more. Even otherwise, most of the RCI approved courses are run in the non-governmental sector, NPRD noted.

More problematic is the proposal to undermine the autonomous character of the council and make it an adjunct of the central government. The NPRD is of the firm opinion that the government should, instead, replace the RCI Act with a legislation that would not only be in harmony with the provisions of the UNCRPD and the RPD Act but would also seek to address the multitude of issues that currently plague the Ccouncil. While retaining its autonomous nature, it has to be ensured that there is accountability and the council functions in a democratic and transparent manner.

The NPRD demands that the government hold consultations with all stakeholders and not proceed in haste.  The NPRD will, both independently and collectively with other disability rights organisations, be sending detailed submissions to the department’s proposals.