Parliament logjam,: With 3 days left in Winter Session, Disability Bill still stuck in Rajya Sabha

The logjam in Parliament has wiped out almost the entire Winter Session, and repeated disruptions over the demonetisation debate mean we go into the final three days of the session with precious little having been achieved. Protests and sloganeering were witnessed throughout the month-long Winter Session. According to PRS Legislative, as Firstpost had earlier reported, the productivity of Rajya Sabha was 20 percent over the last 30 days, while that of Lok Sabha was 14 percent.

The fate of many significant legislative bills are still stuck, including the Rights of Persons With Disabilities Bill, 2016. The bill, though listed for business four times, did not come up for discussion even once, reported The DNA. Candle light marches and rallies pushing for the passage of the Disability Bill were reported from various parts of the country.

Earlier, Sports Minister Vijay Goel was quoted as saying that he will personally talk to Opposition for the quick passage of the bill. “We are very close to passing the bill in Parliament. I will myself talk to Parliamentary affairs minister and if need arises, with Opposition too, and request them to pass the bill first and then debate on demonetisation,” he told PTI.

Disabaled Rights Group (DRG) activists at Solidarity Rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI

Disabaled Rights Group (DRG) activists at Solidarity Rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI

Disabaled Rights Group (DRG) activists at Solidarity Rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI

The Indian Express reported that while the 1995 Act recognised seven disabilities, the 2014 one covered 19 conditions. However, the amended bill covers 21 conditions. The government has proposed 119 amendments to the 2014 bill, the report added.

“In the Bill, disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept, and the types of disabilities have also been increased, from the existing seven to 21. The Centre will have the power to add more types of disabilities to it,” Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot told PTI.

According to PRS Legislative, “Persons with at least 40 percent of a disability are entitled to certain benefits, such as reservations in education and employment, preference in government schemes.” Enhancing the rights and entitlements of people with disabilities, the bill takes the “disabled-friendly access to all public buildings, hospitals, modes of transport, polling stations, etc” into account.

The amended Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, proposes imprisonment of at least six months to two years, along with a fine ranging between Rs 10,000 and Rs 5 lakh, for those discriminating against differently-abled persons, according to PTI. The bill proposes strengthening the office of chief commissioner and state commissioners for persons with disabilities which will act as regulatory bodies.

The bill proposes to increase reservation for those with benchmark disabilities in government jobs and higher education institutes from the current three percent to four percent. It also provides for penalties for offences committed against people with disabilities.

According to The Indian Express, the legislation has been pending in the Rajya Sabha since February 2014. The report added that the 1995 law had 3 percent reservation for the disabled, which was raised to 5 percent in 2014. But the proposed amendments reduces it to 4 percent. The report also added, “The proposed amendments do away with the provision in the 2014 bill for strong national and state commissions for persons with disabilities”.

Javed Abidi, disability activist, called the bill a game change and wrote in the Hindustan Times, “The disability sector has been waiting for this law patiently for the last several years. Just its making took over five years and seemed like a never ending saga.”

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 22:24 IST

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