The amended bill that the government has tabled in the Rajya Sabha is a diluted version of the legislation the Social Justice Ministry earlier put up on its website. The bill’s critics have accused the government of reneging on the amendments that were put together after years of nationwide consultations with advocacy groups. Activists working with differently-abled people maintain that the present legislation is not in sync with the several drafts that were widely deliberated during the pre-legislative process.
The present bill, however, reflects very little or nothing of the original ideas which shaped the amendments. If anything, the legislation now works against such an idea. In a newspaper column, authored by Amita Dhanda, head of Centre for Disability Studies in Hyderabad’s NALSAR University of Law, wrote: “A progressive, rights-based law has been transformed into an anachronistic, welfarist legislation...” For instance among other regressive provisions, by allowing plenary guardianship, the bill denies people with psychosocial disabilities the right to make their own life decisions.
For decades, the community of persons with disability has patiently awaited a rights-based legislation. But is this the bill they have aspired for? On the eve of the general elections barely a couple of months from now, the government wants to push through the Disability Rights Bill, regardless of its adverse implications for those it is meant to serve. For the community, it’s a tough call. They could reject the legislation that is so terribly out of sync with their aspirations and settle for a weak amended bill. It’s unlikely that the incorporation of a few progressive clauses would improve the quality of such an ill-drafted bill.
Source : DNA , 14th Feb 2014