06 Dec

Rights of persons with disabilities – Part I (ACTs)

Legal Framework and Extensive Infrastructure

PWDsMajor Milestones
India is a signatory to the Declaration on the Full Participation and Equality of People with Disabilities in the Asia Pacific Region. India is also a signatory to the Biwako Millennium Framework for action towards an inclusive, barrier free and rights based society.
The adoption of the National Policy for Persons with Disabilities in 2006 and signing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) by India in 2007 are some major milestones in ensuring a life of dignity and self sufficiency to persons with disabilities. India ratified the UN Convention on 1st October, 2008.

At the central level, the Disability Division in the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment facilitates empowerment of the persons with disabilities. The Constitution in the schedule of subjects lays direct responsibility of the empowerment of the persons with disabilities on the State Governments.

Hence, the State Governments and Union Territories in India have established Social Welfare Boards for the handicapped. Panchayati Raj Institutions at village level, intermediary level and district level have been entrusted with the welfare of persons with disabilities. The voluntary organisations also play a very important role in providing welfare and rehabilitation services to the disabled.
The Government has framed many acts to ensure equal opportunities for persons with disabilities and their full participation in the nation-building process. A multi-sectoral collaborative approach, involving all the appropriate governments agencies i.e. Ministries of the Central Government, the State Governments/UTs, Central/State undertakings, local authorities and other appropriate authorities, is being followed in implementation of various provisions of the Act.


The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation Act), 1995
(CMS contribution) is one of the key enactments, which provides for education, employment, creation of barrier free environment, social security etc. The Act extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The Government of Jammu & Kashmir has enacted “The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights & Full Participation) Act, 1998″.
The Government is presently in the process of making comprehensive amendments to the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995, to make it more inclusive on the line of international conventions.
Some highlights of the proposed amendments are:

  • Inclusion of new disabilities such as autism and enlarging the scope of existing disabilities.
  • Setting up of a national fund for persons with disabilities.
  • Ensuring an inclusive environment in education, on roads and in built environment.
  • Restructuring of the Central and State coordinating Committees as Advisory Boards with enhanced roles and responsibilities; creation of committees at district levels.
  • Emphasis on means to prevent disabilities.
  • Affirmative action, including reservation of dwelling units and shops for persons with disabilities.

National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disability Act, 1999
This Act has provisions for legal guardianship of the four categories and creation of enabling environment for as much independent living as possible. This act provides for the constitution of a national body for the welfare of the persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities.

Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992
The Act deals with the development of manpower for providing rehabilitation services, providing the constitution of the Rehabilitation Council of India for regulating the training of rehabilitation professionals and the maintenance of a Central Rehabilitation Register and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

The Mental Health Act, 1987
This Act consolidates and amends the law relating to the treatment and care of mentally ill persons to make better provision with respect to their properly and affairs and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Employees State Insurance Act, 1948
The Act provides certain benefits to employees in case of sickness, maternity and employment injuries and to make provision for certain other matters in relation thereto. The Act also guarantees reasonably good medical care to workers and their immediate dependants.

Exemptions Under Income Tax Act
Section 80U, as it existed till the assessment year 1989-90 and earlier years, provided for a deduction in the case of a resident individual assesses suffering from a permanent physical disability (including total blindness). By an amendment made by the Finance Act of 1989, with effect from assessment year 1990-91, the deduction was also made applicable to the assesses who are suffering from mental retardation to the extent specified in the rules made in this behalf by the Board.

The All India Service (Special Disability Leave) Regulations, 1957
These regulations may be called the All India Services (Special Disability Leave) Regulations, 1957.
Extensive Infrastructure for Differently-abled
In order to effectively deal with multi dimensional problems of persons with disability and for development of manpower in different areas, the government has developed extensive infrastructure for them. The following seven national institutes have been setup in each major area of disability:

  • Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute for the Physically Handicapped, New Delhi
  • National Institute of Visually Handicapped, Dehradun
  • National Institute for the Orthopaedically Handicapped, Kolkata
  • National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped , Secunderabad.
  • Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped, Mumbai
  • National Institute of Rehabilitation Training & Research, Cuttack
  • National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities, Chennai


Rights of persons with disabilities – Part 2 (Welfare Corner)

Rights of persons with disabilities – Part 3 (Financial Assistance)