Shri Thawar Chand Gehlot
Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment
Government of India
Dear Gehlot ji,
We are approaching you, having learnt about the proposal by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, to amend the Rehabilitation Council of India Act.
Without doubt, the RCI Act is outdated and it precedes even the 1995 Persons with Disabilities Act. Various developments have taken place since then, which need to be taken into account. Nevertheless, we find that the proposed amendments do not fully reflect and take cognisance of the immense changes that have taken place. We feel that the attempt is piecemeal.
You may recall that after India ratified the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the process to harmonise our laws started with a set of over a hundred amendments being proposed to the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995. However, disability rights organisations and activists, felt, and rightly so, that amendments would not suffice to reflect the UNCRPD. The government of the day agreed and the process of drafting a new law to replace the PwD Act started, which was finally passed during your first tenure as MSJE in December 2016.
Apart from the latest developments, what we observe is that the amendments do not take into account the myriad issues including the functioning and administration of the RCI, about which complaints are galore. While some of these can be in the form of amendments, they would fail in adopting a holistic approach. Our intent here is not to go into the details of the amendments being proposed.
We firmly believe that what is needed is a new legislation to replace the Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992. This sentiment is also being expressed by various other organisations and disability rights activists with whom we have had informal consultations. The department may also solicit responses from other stakeholders on this.
We sincerely hope that you will consider this demand seriously and will not proceed to get the amendments passed in haste.
In the meanwhile, we would also request that time be extended for at least a month for stakeholders to respond to the proposals.
- Muralidharan, General Secretary, National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled
- S K Singh, Secretary General, National Association for the Blind
- V Gopalakrishnan, General Secretary, All India Federation of the Deaf
- Kanti Ganguly, General Secretary, Paschim Banga Rajya Prathibandhi Sammelani, West Bengal
- Namburajan, General Secretary, Tamilnadu Assn for the Rights of Differently-Abled & Caregivers, Tamilnadu
- Vandana Gopikumar, Founder Trustee, The Banyan
- Prof. M Ravichandran, Secretary, All India Confederation of organisations for Persons with Mental Disability
- P Mohanan, President, Differently-Abled Welfare Federation, Kerala
- Sathwik Adivaiah, General Secretary, Vikalangula Hakkula Jathiya Vedika, Telangana
- 10.Prof TMN Deepak, state President, December 3 movement, Tamilnadu
- 11.Kapil Kumar Aggarwal, President, Federation of Disabled Rights
- 12.Mukesh Gupta, General Secretary, Disabled Employees Association of Railways
- 13.Appala Naidu, General Secretary, Vikalangula Hakkula Jathiya Vedika, Andhra Pradesh
- 14.Rishikesh Rajli, General Secretary, Haryana Viklang Adhikar Manch, Haryana
- 15.Rangappa Dasar, General Secretary, Karnataka Rajya Angavikalara Mattu Palakara Okkota
- 16.Salil Debbarma, Secretary, Tripura Prathibandhi Adhikar Manch
- 17.Dayabhai Gajera, Gujarat Viklang Adhikar Manch
- 18.Shampa Sengupta, Director, Sruti Disability Rights Centre, Kolkata
- 19.Seema Lal, Director, Together We Can, Kerala
- 20.Lakshwadeep Disabled Association
- 21.Srikishan Ahirwal, Madhya Pradesh Viklang Adhikar Manch
- 22.Subash Gupta, Jharkhand Viklang Morcha
- 23.Nipun Malhotra, Disability Rights Activist
- 24.Punitha Suresh, Disability Rights activist, Tamilnadu
- 25.Smriti Vallath, Research head, BALM, Tamilnadu