Sunday, December 25, 2016

Invitation for National Consultation on RPWD Bill 2016 on 29-30 Dec 2016 at New Delhi

Dear Colleagues,

People's Action for Change & Empowerment (PACE)  in collaboration with Centre for Accessibility in Built Environment (CABE) invites you to a National Consultation on the RPWD Bill 2016 (Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2016) scheduled to be held in New Delhi during 29-30 Dec 2016. For a copy of the New RPWD Bill 2016 passed by the Rajya Sabha here. For the benefit of blind readers, a copy of the RPWD Bill 2016 in plain text (without table) is provided here. Related documents can be accessed on the Resource Section.

Invitation Poster for the 2 Day National Consultation on Rights of Persons With Disabilities Bill 2016

According to the Census of India, 2011 disabled persons accounted for 2.21% of India’s population. Of these, 20.3% have a movement-related disability, 18.9% are those with hearing disabilities and 18.8% with vision-related disabilities. The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment itself considers this figure as an under-count. The World Bank pegged the number of disabled in India to be around 80 million.

Currently, the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) (PWD) Act, 1995 specifies seven conditions as disabilities and makes special provisions for disabled persons with regard to their rehabilitation, and opportunities for employment and education.

In 2007, India became a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The UNCRPD requires signatory states to make appropriate changes in law and policy to give effect to rights of disabled persons.

Apart from the PWD Act, other laws that govern various aspects of disabilities include the Mental Health Act, 1987, the Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992 and the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999.

In response to the ratification of the UNCRPD, the Government decided to bring about changes in its existing legal framework. Accordingly, in 2010, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment constituted an expert committee under Dr. Sudha Kaul Vice-Chairperson, Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy, Kolkata, to draft a new Bill for persons with disabilities. The committee with the help of a legal consultant Prof. Amita Dhanda (Nalsar Law University)  submitted a Draft Bill on June 30, 2011 that proposed to replace the existing Persons with Disabilities Act and addressed rights and entitlements for disabled persons. The draft Bill was extensively debated and discussed at various levels involving State Governments and Union Territories. The Committee held several State Level consultations at 30 places (28 States and 2 UTs) and also a National Consultation involving civil society representatives and consultations with legal experts. On the basis of the comments received from Central Ministries/ Departments as also the State Governments, the draft RPWD Bill was further revised and subsequently finalized in consultations with Ministry of Law and Justice (Legislative Department). The Union Cabinet considered the proposal of the Ministry and approved the proposed RPWD Bill, 2013 with the modification regarding exemption of National Fund from the purview of income tax (deletion of clause 102).

The Ministry further met the representatives of the cross disability groups under the banner of Joint Disabilities Forum. The issues raised by the cross disability Joint Disabilities Forum were discussed in detail in the National Advisory Council on 29.01.2014. Accordingly, the revised proposal to incorporate these amendments in the Bill was approved by the Cabinet on 06.02.2014.

The Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha February 7, 2014 and the amendments thereto were circulated in the Rajya Sabha on February 11, 2014. The Bill was, thereafter, on September 16, 2014, referred to the Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment for examination and report. However, due to dissolution of 15th Lok Sabha, the Bill was re-referred to the Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment (2014-15) in the 16th Lok Sabha.

The Standing Committee chaired by Shri. Ramesh Bais presented its report to Lok Sabha on May 7, 2015 with several important recommendations. Its only in winter session of 2016, that the bill was tabled in the Parliament & both the houses passed the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2014 with 119 amendments as 'The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2016 (Rajya Sabha passed it on 14 Dec 16 and Lok Sabha on 16 Dec 16) unanimously. As we write, the Bill awaits the assent of the Hon'ble President for its notification.

Need of this consultation
Although the Bill has many good features incorporating civil, political & cultural rights & also covers a wide range of disabling conditions with power to the government to add more disabilities, yet there are many areas in the Bill that pose serious challenge as a result of omissions & dilutions. This not only that frustrates the object of the Bill - that is to give full effect to the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, but also takes away from the stakeholders what was already available to them in the earlier Act of 1995.

Many sections of the bill are also dependent on framing of comprehensive rules in order to give effect to the Bill. There are also catena of judgments passed by the different High Courts & Hon’ble Supreme Court giving wider & beneficial interpretations  of the existing PWD Act of 1995 that advanced the rights of persons with disabilities and this jurisprudence need to find its place in the Bill or in rules.  If these concerns cannot be addressed within the rules in the given framework of the bill, it may necessitate amendments in the bill to rectify the same.  
In light of above, a National Consultation on the RPWD Bill 2016 is proposed to be held during 29-30 Dec 2016 as per following details, wherein we propose to discuss each section threadbare & analyse the bill & come up with suggestions on how to plug the lacunae in the Bill that the rights of persons with disabilities are protected. The participants of the Consultation will be lawyers, activists, persons with disabilities & DPOs/ NGOs working on disability rights issues.

Venue: Gandhi Hall, Blind Relief Association, Lal Bahadur Shastri Road, New Delhi 110003 (Near Oberoi Hotel). [Locate here on Google Map
Date: 29 & 30 December 2016 
Time: 09 AM to 6 PM
Tentative Agenda 

Day – 1
Registration 9 AM – 9.30 AM
Session 0 : 9.30 AM – 10.00 AM
Introduction to RPWD Bill /Opening Remarks
Mr. AK Awasthi, Joint Secretary, DEPWD
Mr. Pankaj Sinha, Adv, PACE
Session 1 :10.00 AM – 11.30 AM
Chapter I and II  - Definitions & Right & Entitlements (1.5 Hours)

Ms. Smitha Sadasivan, DLU South/DRA
Tea break
Session 2 :11.45  AM – 1.45 PM
Chapter III & IV – Education &Skill Development & Employment (1.5 Hours)
Mr. Satish Kapoor, Brotherhood
Mr. Avinash Shahi, JNU
Mr. Ashok Agarwal,  Social Jurist
Mr. Vikas Gupta, Asst Prof. DU
Session 3 :2.30 PM – 3.45 PM
Chapter VI Benchmark Disabilities (1.5 Hrs)
Mr. Nipun Malhotra, Nipman Foundation
Tea Break
Session 4 :4.00 PM – 5.30 PM
Chapters V & VII - Social Security, Health, Rehabilitation And Recreation & High Support Needs
Ms. Sandhya Raju, Adv (Kerala)
Session 5: 9.00 AM – 11.00 AM
Chapter VIII  - Duties And Responsibilities Of Appropriate Governments
Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth, Adv
Mr. Rajive Raturi, Director- DRI, HRLN
Tea break
Session 6:11.30 AM – 1.00 PM
Chapter IX, X & XI – Registration of Institutions, Disability Certification & Advisory boards
Ms. Jayna Kothari, Adv  (Bangalore)
Mr. T.D. Dhariyal, Former Dy CCPD
Session 7 – 2.00 PM – 3.00 PM
Chapter XII & XIII – Chief Commissioner/ State Commissioners & Special Courts
Mr. PK Pincha, Former CCPD
Mr. Jamshed Keki Mistry, Adv (Bombay)
Mr. Pankaj Sinha, Adv
Session 8 – 3.15 PM – 4.15 PM
Chapter XIV to Chapters XVII   National Fund, Offences & Penalties & Misc.
Mr. T.D. Dhariyal, Former Dy CCPD
Ms. Tanu Bedi, Adv (Chandigarh)
Dr. Sanjay S. Jain, Associate Prof.  LS Law College, (Pune)
Tea Break
Summing Up:  4.30 PM- 5.00 PM

Mr. Pankaj Sinha, Adv
Mr. Subhash Chandra Vashishth, Adv
Press Conference: 5.00 PM - 6.00 PM

If you are interested to contribute & attend this consultation workshop, please write a mail to / and get yourself registered.

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