Friday, December 22, 2023

Supreme Court Launches Initiative for Public Input by 31 Jan 2024 to Combat Stereotypes Against Persons with Disabilities in Legal Settings

Dear Colleagues,

In a groundbreaking move for 2023, the Supreme Court has embarked on a crucial initiative to address harmful stereotypes against individuals with disabilities within the legal realm. Following the successful unveiling of the 'Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes,' which aimed to guide legal professionals away from detrimental language related to women, the Supreme Court is extending its commitment to inclusivity. The court is now set to launch a parallel handbook dedicated to combatting prejudicial language and stereotypes surrounding individuals with disabilities.

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, grants specific rights and benefits to individuals with disabilities, including those with "high support needs". However, to give real meaning to these rights, it is essential for the enforcing courts to be well-versed in and sensitive to the challenges faced by persons with disabilities. This understanding extends beyond addressing physical requirements; it involves comprehending and responding to the diverse challenges encountered within the legal system. Overcoming stereotypes about persons with disabilities is crucial, as these biases can introduce unfairness into legal proceedings, affecting the impartiality of outcomes.

Stereotypes often depict individuals with disabilities as less competent or reliable, unfairly influencing judicial proceedings, including the credibility of testimonies and the recognition of rights and responsibilities in legal contexts. By actively dismantling these stereotypes and ensuring that courts understand and support the needs of individuals with disabilities, the legal system can evolve into a more inclusive and just entity, reflecting the diversity of the society it serves. This commitment to accessibility and fairness not only benefits individuals with disabilities but also strengthens the integrity and equity of the legal system on a broader scale.

To encourage engagement from diverse stakeholders and gather a comprehensive range of perspectives, the Supreme Court of India has invited input on the following issues:

1. Proposing inclusive terminology suitable for addressing Persons with Disabilities, encompassing their needs and the issues affecting them.

2. Identifying inaccurate or harmful stereotypes about persons with disabilities that contribute to discrimination, distorted legal reasoning, or the denial of legal rights or benefits, along with strategies to counteract such stereotypes.

3. Recommending primary legal materials and academic literature that can be relied upon in formulating a Handbook on Combating Stereotypes concerning Persons with Disabilities.

All interested stakeholders are invited to share their insights by completing the form at the following link: on or before 31 Jan 2024.

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