Rights activists welcome passing of Disabilities Bill in Rajya Sabha

Updated: Dec 15, 2016, 11:48 IST | PTI |

Disability rights activists today welcomed the passing of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 in the Rajya Sabha and termed today's discussion in the Upper House "almost a miracle"

New Delhi: Disability rights activists today welcomed the passing of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 in the Rajya Sabha and termed today's discussion in the Upper House "almost a miracle".

For the first time since the Winter Session began on November 16, Rajya Sabha today saw a legislative action as it
passed the Bill in a cordial atmosphere.

"After six years of advocating and waiting, the Rajya Sabha unanimously passed the Bill. While it seemed like the
House would not see any legislative business taking place during the ongoing Winter Session, today's discussion was
almost a miracle.

"The Bill will now be sent to the Lok Sabha and we are positive that it will be passed in the Lower House too during
the Winter Session itself," Javed Abidi, Convener of Disabled Rights Group said.

Speaking to reporters after the Rajya Sabha cleared the Bill, which stipulates up to two-year jail term and a maximum
fine of Rs 5 lakh for discriminating against differently-abled persons, Union minister Thawar Chand Gehlot said the
government will try to present it in the Lower House tomorrow.Disabled Rights Group (DRG) had been campaigning hard for
the last one week for the passage of the Bill. A rally was held in New Delhi yesterday appealing the Parliamentarians to
set aside their differences and pass the Bill.

"We convey our heartfelt thanks to all members of the Rajya Sabha for the smooth passage of the Bill after a
discussion lasting nearly two hours," Muralidharan, Secretary, National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled said."We welcome the fact that the some of the major concerns we had raised regarding certain provisions in the Bill have
been addressed through amendments," S K Rungta, Convener AIDA (an Alliance of organisations for disability rights) and
General Secretary of National Federation of the Blind, said.

"One of the major amendment concerns was bringing private entities under the definition of 'establishment'. Another
glaring inadequacy in the Bill was absence of definition of "discrimination", which has now been introduced."Another amendment provides for sign language interpretation and captioning in TV programmes. Reservation in promotions for employees with disabilities has also been provided for in the Bill," Rungta said.

On November 30, the Union Cabinet approved the proposed amendments to the Bill, that seeks to replace the Persons with
Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.

The amended Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill,2014, proposes to increase reservation for those with benchmark disabilities in government jobs from current three per cent to four per cent, and in higher educationalinstitutes from the existing three per cent to five per cent.

It also proposes strengthening the office of chief commissioner and state commissioners for Persons with Disabilities which will act as regulatory bodies.

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