Rajya Sabha passes bill providing disabled with more rights

New Delhi, Dec 14 (IANS) The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed, by voice vote, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, which expands the list of disabilities from 7 to 19, makes accessibility to public buildings, transport, polling station a mandatory requirement and provides for a national fund for welfare of the disabled.

The bill, which replaces the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, has been brought in to comply with the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which India signed in 2007.

The legislation was pending in the Rajya Sabha since February 2014 as the term of the erstwhile UPA government ended soon after it was introduced.

Moving the bill, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot said campaign is on to fulfill vacancies related to the disabled.

“The Bill would give more rights to peoples with disabilities. We have raised the reservation from three per cent to four per cent. We have announced to set up Divyyang University in Kerala. It will start functioning from next session,” he said.

Supporting the bill, Congress member Karan Singh said: “By passing it we not only fulfull international obligation, we are fulfilling an obligation to citizens of our country. The bill was long overdue and would honour India’s commitment to the UN treaty on the subject.”

Singh said that government must ensure that their reserved seats are filled and also called for a public education campaign to teach people to treat the disabled with respect.

“This is the civic value which we must develop,” he added.

Naresh Agarawal of Samajwadi Party stressed that the disabled must not be harassed and get more quota in jobs, while Satish Chandra Mishra of the Bahujan Samaj Party demanded that the measure should be known as the Rights of the Differently-Abled Bill.

Communist Party of India-Marxist’s Sitaram Yechury said: “We want this bill to be strengthened. The quota should have been raised to 5 per cent instead of 4.”

The bill now is to be passed by the Lok Sabha.

–IANS

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