Applying the CRPD in India: Centre for Disability Studies NALSAR University of Law

India is engaged in the project of a comprehensive review of its disability law as part of its enactment of the UN Convention on the rights of Persons with disabilities. The process is deliberative and ongoing. Below is the Statement of Objectives.

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2010

Statement of Objects and Reasons

India has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and has undertaken the obligation to ensure and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all Persons with Disabilities without discrimination of any kind on the basis of disability. In fulfilment of this international commitment, the country is obligated to enact suitable legislation in furtherance of the rights recognized in the UN Convention.

India enacted the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act of 1995 in fulfilment of its obligation as a signatory to the proclamation on the full participation and equality of People with Disabilities in Asia Pacific region. This legislation has been on the statute book for nearly 15 years and has been the basis of a largely empowering jurisprudence on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Whilst the need to retain the empowering jurisprudence is unequivocally acknowledged; it is also recognized that the present Persons with Disabilities Act does not incorporate a number of rights recognized in the UN CRPD. Even the rights that are recognized are not in total harmony with the principles of the Convention.

Furthermore, the UN CRPD recognizes that disability is an evolving concept and that disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. The Persons with Disabilities Act on the other hand has provided for impairment based exhaustive definition of disability. Consequently, people with impairments not mentioned in the Act have been denied the rights and entitlements recognized in the Act.

Insofar as the present Disability Act at no place mandates the right to equality and non-discrimination for persons with disabilities and only selectively recognizes some rights for some persons with disabilities, it is proposed to replace the current disability legislations with a comprehensive law which recognizes all rights of all persons with disabilities.

To this end, it is proposed that the new Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act shall:

Guarantee equality and non-discrimination to all persons with disabilities;

Recognize legal capacity of all persons with disabilities and make provision for support where required to exercise such legal capacity;

Recognize the multiple and aggravated discrimination faced by women with disabilities and induct a gendered understanding in both the rights and the programmatic interventions;

Recognize the special vulnerabilities of children with disabilities and ensure that they are treated on an equal basis with other children;

Mandate special programmatic interventions for home bound persons with disabilities; persons with disabilities in institutions as also persons with disabilities with high support needs;

Establish a Disability Rights Authority which facilitates the formulation of disability policy and law with active participation of persons with disabilities; dismantles structural discrimination existing against persons with disabilities and regulates the due observance of standards and guidelines promulgated under this Act for the protection, promotion and enjoyment of all rights guaranteed in this Act;

Specify civil and criminal sanctions for acts and conduct deemed to be wrongful;


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