National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) is appalled that the draft of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Rules,do not have a single line on Education. Health Social Security or gender issues
In a letter to , Shri K V S Rao,Director,Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment Government of India,in response to the Gazette Notification of March 10, 2017 publishing the Draft of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Rules, proposed to be made by the Central Government for implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.they state that Although the rules are being framed “in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 100 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016”.Whereas sub-section (1) lays down that “The Central Government may, subject to the condition of previous publication, by notification, make rules for carrying out the provisions of this Act.” Sub-section (2) lays down that “In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules may provide for all or any of the following matters, namely:……….”
A reading of the draft rules is that with a few notable exceptions, the framing of rules have been restricted to sub-clauses under 100 (2) only.What the disability rights activists find more appalling is that no rules are proposed for many chapters of the Act, including for provisions contained in the two crucial chapters dealing with “Education” and “Social Security, Health, Rehabilitation and Recreation”.What is intriguing is that many positive provisions contained in the draft rules put out on the department’s website earlier are found missing in the version put out through the Gazette notification later. Some of these pertain to proposed rules governing private establishments.\The draft rules fail to address the assurance the Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri Thawar Chand Gehlot had given on the floor of the Rajya Sabha in response to amendments moved by Shri K. K Ragesh and C.P. Narayanan supported by Shri Sitaram Yechury, while the RPD Bill was being discussed. These pertain to Section 3(3) with regard to discrimination and with regard to employment.
The Department is proposing framing of a policy for implementation of the Act. This is a fallacious line of thinking akin to putting the cart before the horse. While an Act should follow a policy, it cannot be the reverse. In any case, a policy cannot be merely confined or restricted to implementation of a piece of legislation. A policy should ideally spell out of the overall approach of the government to a particular issue and its long term perspective. The mistake was committed earlier too. When the PwD Act was legislated there was no policy in place. What came out as a policy eleven years later in 2006 was a replica of the 1995 Act as also containing measures to implement it.
The government should not rush through this process of framing the rules with the ill conceived aim of meeting some self-set deadline for publication.Additionally, the Committee constituted for the purpose of framing the rules has just three representatives from the disability sector.
NPRD states that ” While we in way want to cast aspersions on their capability, it goes without saying that the canvas has become much wider with the recognition of an additional 14 new conditions as disabling. Of the 21 disabilities now recognized, the committee has representation from just two.It would therefore be in the fitness of things if consultations with stakeholders are held at both the state and national level where representatives from all the 21 conditions specified in the Act plus representatives of DPOs are invited and their inputs taken.Rushing through the process and coming out with half baked rules will do more harm, complicate the process of the implementation of the law, subject it to varied interpretations and lead to unnecessary litigation etc.
National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) emphasised that they are very much eager to see that the provisions of the Act come into force at the earliest. But this should not be at the cost of leaving out crucial chapters and not addressing all concerns adequately.