Which disabilities are covered under the Persons with Disabilities Act? Persons with disabilities under the 1995 Act are those who have been certified to have more than 40% of the following impairments:
- Low vision
- Hearing impairment
- Loco motor disability (including cerebral palsy)
- Mental retardation
- Mental illness
In some instances, certain groups (such as persons with dwarfism and persons with HIV/AIDS) were extended some entitlements under the law. However these are limited inclusions.
Which institutions are covered under the Act?
All institutions which are meant for the reception, care, protection, education, training, rehabilitation or any other service of persons with disabilities and persons with severe disabilities (certified to be above 80% of a disability) are required to be registered under the competent authority under this Act. In Delhi, the recognition of institutions for Persons with Disabilities is undertaken by the Department of Social Welfare, Govt. of NCT of Delhi. The Joint Director (Social Welfare) is the competent authority for this purpose. Registration details can be found here.
This is in addition to any requirement that may exist under the Rehabilitation Council of India Act for certification of professionals working in the organization.
What are the State obligations towards persons with disabilities?
- The Government has to ensure that children with disabilities get free education in an appropriate environment till the age of 18. The Government should try to integrate students with disabilities with able-bodied students, but at the same time, set up special schools for students who need them
- The Act also empowers the government to set up schemes in relation to provision of educational materials, scholarships, free transport etc. to students with disabilities
- The Act requires that students who are blind and with low vision are provided scribes
- All government educational institutions and other educational institutions receiving aid from the government, shall reserve not less than 3 per cent seats for persons with disabilities (from amongst the categories of disabilities mentioned above)
- With regard to primary education, the enactment of the Right to Education Act has precedence over the Persons with Disabilities Act as it establishes a right and not merely a government obligation. This means that from Class I to VIII, students with disabilities are included in the 25% reservation for students. The 3% reservation stands for admissions to higher secondary education and universities
- 3% of posts in government jobs are reserved for persons with disabilities – 1% each for persons with low vision/blindness; hearing impairment and loco-motor impairment. The Act also mandates the identification of posts which can be reserved for persons with disabilities
- It empowers the government to create schemes around accessible workplaces and employment
- In addition, the Act provides that no employee shall be dispensed with or demoted on account of any disability acquired during service, and that no employee shall be refused promotion on the grounds of disability alone
- Affirmative Action: The Act empowers the government to enact schemes in relation to preferential allocation of land for persons with disabilities for housing, special schools, recreation centres etc.
- Non Discrimination: The Act requires the transport sector to adapt rail compartments, buses, vessels and aircrafts to allow easy access to persons with disabilities, including toilet facilities. It also mandates provision of auditory traffic signals, engraving footpaths and platforms, accessible pavements and the use of warning signals
- Research and Development: The Act mandates that the government promote and sponsor research in various areas like aids and appliances, identification of jobs, community based rehabilitation and assistive devices
- Resource Allocation: Governments and local authorities shall reserve not less than 3 percent in all poverty alleviation schemes for the benefit of persons with disabilities
What authorities are established under the law?
The Office of the Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) at the Centre and State Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities (SCPD) is established with this law. These authorities have ‘quasi-judicial’ powers (i.e. they are not Courts, but they have powers to hold inquiries) on:
- Deprivation of rights of persons with disabilities
- Non-implementation of laws, rules, by-laws, regulations, executive orders, guidelines or instructions made or issued by appropriate governments or local authorities for the welfare and protection of rights of persons with disabilities and take up the matter with the appropriate authorities
How can I approach the Commissioner?
In order to approach the Office of the SCPD or the CCPD, you need to submit the following documents (via post, fax, email or in person):
- Your name, description (including the nature of impairment) and address
- The name, description and address of the opposite party or parties, as the case may be, unless they are unknown
- The details of the facts of the case, including the date and time of the occurrence, location
- Annex documents in support of your claims. You also need to annex a copy of your disability certificate
- What you would like from the Office of the Commissioner of Disabilities
It is advisable to first approach the State Commissioner and then the Chief Commissioner if the State Commissioner does not pass orders that are to your satisfaction. If the Commissioner believes that they have jurisdiction to examine the matter, they will forward the complaint copy to the accused with directions to file their say within 15 days. You may be given a date to remain present before the Commissioner. If the opposite party does not turn up, the Commissioner has limited powers to enforce their attendance. But if your case is convincing enough, the Commissioner may pass orders in their absence as well.
Here are the contact details of the relevant commissioners in Delhi:
Commissioner, Disabilities, Govt. of N.C.T. of Delhi,
25-D, Mata Sundari Road,
Near Guru Nanak Eye Centre, New Delhi – 110002
23216001 – 04, 23216005 (Fax)
Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities
Sarojini House, 6 Bhagwan Dass Road, New Delhi 110001
Phone No : 91-011 – 23386154, 23386054