"The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill - 2016" which will replace the existing PwD Act, 1995, has been passed by the Parliament recently (December 2016)
The salient features of the Bill are:
The types of disabilities have been increased from existing 7 to 21 and the Central Government will have the power to add more types of disabilities. The 21 disabilities are given below:-
1. Blindness 2. Low-vision 3. Leprosy Cured persons 4. Hearing Impairment (deaf and hard of hearing) 5. Locomotor Disability 6. Dwarfism 7. Intellectual Disability 8. Mental Illness 9. Autism Spectrum Disorder 10. Cerebral Palsy 11. Muscular Dystrophy 12. Chronic Neurological conditions 13. Specific Learning Disabilities 14. Multiple Sclerosis 15. Speech and Language disability 16. Thalassemia 17. Hemophilia 18. Sickle Cell disease 19. Multiple Disabilities including deafblindness 20. Acid Attack victim 21. Parkinson's disease
Speech and Language Disability and Specific Learning Disability have been added for the first time. Acid Attack Victims have been included. Dwarfism, muscular dystrophy have has been indicated as separate class of specified disability. The New categories of disabilities also included three blood disorders, Thalassemia, Hemophilia and Sickle Cell disease.
In addition, the Government has been authorized to notify any other category of specified disability.
Additional benefits such as reservation in higher education, government jobs, reservation in allocation of land, poverty alleviation schemes etc. have been provided for persons with benchmark disabilities and those with high support needs. Reservation in vacancies in government establishments has been increased from 3% to 4% for certain persons or class of persons with benchmark disability.
Every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education.
The Bill provides for grant of guardianship by District Court under which there will be joint decision – making between the guardian and the persons with disabilities.
Creation of National and State Fund will be created to provide financial support to the persons with disabilities. The existing National Fund for Persons with Disabilities and the Trust Fund for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities will be subsumed with the National Fund.
The Bill provides for penalties for offences committed against persons with disabilities and also violation of the provisions of the new law.
The New Act will bring our law in line with the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory. This will fulfill the obligations on the part of India in terms of UNCRD.