The government is set to introduce an amendment to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2014, which will effectively reduce the to-be-hiked reservation in government jobs from the proposed five per cent to four per cent. The original bill, introduced in Rajya Sabha by the UPA government in February 2014 and pending since then, had proposed the five per cent quota in government organisations as well as higher education institutions for those with at least 40 per cent disability. In the amendment proposed by the current government, the education quota remains untouched. Social Justice Minister Thawarchand Gehlot is set to move the amendements, which were circulated among Rajya Sabha members this week, though the bill could not be taken up for discussion with the House disrupted.
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According to the 2011 census, India has 2.68 crore persons with disabilities accounting for 2.21 percent of the population. Fifty-eight percent of these suffer from hearing, vision or movement-related disabilities.
The pending 2014 bill was to replace the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995, under which reservation for both jobs and education was 3 per cent. The upcoming amendment retains the existing three per cent — one per cent each for the physically impaired, hearing impaired and visually impaired. The additional one per cent is for those with mental retardation/mental illness or multiple disabilities.
“The 2014 bill had proposed an additional two per cent, with one per cent each for mental impairment and multiple disabilities. Our amendment has clubbed these two together and reduced the reservation in government jobs from the proposed 5 per cent to 4 per cent,” said a government official.
The amendments set to be moved also expand from 19 to 21 the number of conditions listed as disabilities. Two additions have been made to accommodate acid attack victims and those with Parkinson’s disease. The 1995 Act recognised seven conditions as disabilities — blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impairment, locomotor disability, mental retardation and mental illness. The 2014 bill expanded the list to 19 including cerebral palsy, haemophilia, multiple sclerosis and thalassaemia and others.
The 2014 amendment was introduced to bring the Act in tune with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which India became a signatory in 2007. The bill provides persons with disabilities with certain rights and preference in government schemes. It has provisions for imprisonment for six months to two years for violations, and five years and a fine for those who intimidate or insult a person with disability or sexually exploit a woman or child with disability.