New Bill to strengthen definition of disabilities

Rushing to fulfil the commitment of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the government on Friday tabled in the Rajya Sabha an older version of the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 as the amendments approved by the Union Cabinet late on Thursday night could not be printed on time.

The 16-odd amendments, which were included after disability rights activists took up the matter with Ms. Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, are now likely to be placed in the House on Monday. They address many concerns of the activists.

Ms. Gandhi had announced at a function last month that the new Bill, in the making since 2011, would be passed in the winter session. The Bill expands the definition of disabilities to include 19 physical and mental disabilities, and provides for a 5 per cent reservation in government jobs and reservation in higher educational institutions.

The version tabled in the Rajya Sabha had been approved by the Union Cabinet on December 30, but disability rights activists opposed it, saying it was a diluted version. The activists, led by Javed Abidi, then launched a major campaign for bringing amendments in the draft of the proposed law and met senior Ministers in the government. But the Bill faces uncertainty as Parliament has not been able to transact any business on account of Telangana and other issues. There are procedural hurdles also.

The CPI(M) has demanded that the bill be first sent to a parliamentary committee.



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