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FAQ Category :: The Rights of Persons With Disabilities (“RPWD”) Act, 2016

Which law deals with rights and entitlements of the disabled?

The laws dealing with the rights and entitlements of disabled are as follows:

  1. Rights of Persons with Disabilities (“RPWD”) Act, 2016 –
    Enacted in December 2016, the Act replaced the previous Persons with Disability (PWD) Act, 1995 in India. The Act promotes as well as protects the rights and dignity of people with disabilities in various aspects of life such as legal, educational, socio-economic, cultural and political.
  2. RPWD Rules, 2017 –
    The rules lay down guidelines to be followed for the effective implementation of the RPWD Act, 2016.
  3. United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (“UNCRPD”) –
    The UNCRPD was drafted in 2006 with the intention to protect the rights and dignity of people with disabilities The RPWD Act was enacted to give effect to the UNCRPD which was ratified by India in 2007.
  4. Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 – 
    The Act provides for mental healthcare and services for persons with mental illness.
  5. The Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992 –
    The Act provides for the constitution of the Rehabilitation Council of India for regulating, monitoring and promoting the training of rehabilitation professionals and personnel in rehabilitation and special education. The Act defines ‘handicapped’ as a person suffering from any disability defined under the RPWD Act.
  6. The National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 – 
    The Act sets up a National Trust to enable persons with disability to live independently by promoting measures for their protection in case of death of their parents, establishing procedures for appointment of their guardians and trustees, and providing equal opportunities in society

Has the RPWD Act categorised disabled persons into any groups?

Yes.
The RPWD Act has categorised disabled persons into three broad categories namely,

  1.  Persons with Disability
  2. Person with Benchmark Disability.
  3.  Persons with Disability having high support needs

Who is a ‘person with disability’?

Any person with long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which, in interaction with barriers, hinders his full and effective participation in society equally with others is a person with disability.

Who is a ‘person with benchmark disability’?

Any person with not less than 40% of specified disability, as in the schedule of the Act which enlists 21 disabilities, is a person with benchmark disability.
Examples include – Blindness and low vision; deaf and hard of hearing; locomotor disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims and muscular dystrophy; autism, intellectual disability, specific learning disability and mental illness; or combination of any of the above disabilities

Who is a person with benchmark disability having high support needs?

Any person with benchmark disability who needs high support is a person with benchmark disability having high support needs.
High Support is defined under the act as an intensive support either physical, psychological and otherwise, which may be required by a person with benchmark disability for daily activities, to take independent and informed decision to access facilities and participating in all areas of life including education, employment, family and community life and treatment and therapy.

To which disabilities is the RPWD Act applicable to?

The RPWD Act entails 21 disabilities in its schedules to which the Act will be applicable. Additionally, it also includes any multiple disabilities including deaf blindness and any other category as may be notified by the Central Government. These are –

  1. Blindness
  2.  Low-vision
  3.  Leprosy Cured persons
  4.  Hearing Impairment (deaf and hard of hearing)
  5.  Locomotor Disability
  6.  Dwarfism
  7. Intellectual Disability
  8.  Mental Illness
  9. Autism Spectrum Disorder
  10.  Cerebral Palsy
  11. Muscular Dystrophy
  12.  Chronic Neurological conditions
  13.  Specific Learning Disabilities
  14.  Multiple Sclerosis
  15.  Speech and Language disability
  16.  Thalessemia
  17.  Hemophilia
  18.  Sickle cell disease
  19.  Multiple disabilities including deaf blindness
  20.  Acid Attack Victim
  21.  Parkinson’s disease

What are the various rights available to persons with disabilities under the RPWD Act?

The various rights available to persons with disabilities under the RPWD Act are listed as follows:

  1. Right to Equality and Non discrimination
  2. Right to live in the community
  3. Right to protection from cruelty and inhuman treatment
  4. Right to protection from abuse, violence and exploitation
  5. Right to Protection and Safety
  6. Right to live in a family i.e no child with a disability may be separated from the parents on ground of disabilities except on order of competent court
  7. Right to equal protection and safety in situations of risk, armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters
  8. Right to reproductive and family planning
  9. Right to accessibility in voting
  10. Right to access to justice
  11. Right to Legal Capacity
  12. Right to provision for guardianship

Does the RPWD Act provide special rights to disabled women and children?

Yes.
The RPWD Act provides special rights to disabled women and children in order to enjoy their rights equally with others. Women and children with disabilities have equal rights to freely express their views on all matters affecting them and the government shall provide adequate support keeping in view their age and disability

Under the RPWD Act who has the responsibility of protecting the rights of persons with disabilities and also frame schemes for them?

The Act enlists the ‘appropriate government’ and ‘local authorities’ as the authority responsible for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities.

Under the RWPD Act what is meant by ‘appropriate government’ and ‘local authority’?

The “appropriate Government” refers to the Central government and the State government.
The ‘local authority’ refers to means a Municipality or a Panchayat or a Cantonment Board or any other authority established under an Act of Parliament or a State Legislature to administer the civic affairs

Does the RPWD Act cast any duties and responsibilities upon the appropriate government and local authorities other than protecting the rights of persons with disabilities?

Other than protecting the rights of PWD, appropriate government and local authorities are expected to

  1.  conduct, encourage, support or promote awareness campaigns and sensitization programmes across all establishments to ensure the protection of rights of PWD
  2.  take measures to provide facilities for PWD with respect to their acessibility to transport
  3.  provide schemes and programmes that promote personal mobility of PWD at affordable costs to provide for incentives, concessions, retrofitting of vehicles and personal mobility assistance
  4.  ensure information and communication technology are in accessible format for PWD
  5.  promote development, production and distribution of universally designed consumer products and accessories for general use for PWD
  6.  ensure that no permission or completion certificates are granted to those establishments that do not follow accessibility norms laid by the government for PWD
  7.  ensure all government officials as well as other officials across all professions are educated and trained about the rights of PWD

Which are the various areas in which the appropriate government and local authority is expected to formulate schemes?

The appropriate government and local authorities are expected to formulate schemes and programs to enable PWD especially for their vocational training and self employment. This also includes making provision of loans at a concessional rate to facilitate and support employment of PWDs. The areas in which schemes shall be provided are as follows –

  1.  Social security in terms of adequate standard of living to enable PWD to live independently or in communities
  2.  Healthcare including prevention of occurrence of disabilities
  3.  Insurance schemes for government employees
  4.  Rehabilitation programs including in areas of health, education, employment
  5.  Financial assistance to NGOs
  6. Research and development to empower PWD
  7.  Culture and recreation
  8.  Sporting activities

In order to avail certain rights, benefits and schemes do Persons with Disabilities need any ‘certification’?

Yes.
In order to avail certain rights, benefits and schemes, persons with disabilities need to acquire a certificate from an government authorized medical authority in accordance with the RPWD Rules, 2017.

Does the RPWD Act contain special provisions relating to education of persons with disabilities?

Yes.
All educational institutions either funded or recognised by appropriate government or local authority are required to provide inclusive education. For this purpose the educational institutions are expected to

  1.  admit disabled students without discrimination and provide education and opportunities for sports and recreation activities equally with others.
  2.  make building, campus and various facilities accessible.
  3.  provide reasonable accommodation according to the individual’s requirements.
  4.  provide necessary support individualised or otherwise in environments that maximise academic and social development. consistent with the goal of full inclusion
  5.  ensure that the education to persons who are blind or deaf or both is imparted in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication.
  6. detect specific learning disabilities in children at the earliest and take suitable pedagogical and other measures to overcome them.
  7.  monitor participation, progress in terms of attainment levels and completion of education in respect of every student with disability.
  8.  provide transportation facilities to the children with disabilities and also the attendant of the children with disabilities having high support needs.

What is meant by ‘inclusive education’?

Inclusive education refers to a system of education wherein students with and without disability learn together and the system of teaching and learning is suitably adapted to meet the learning needs of different types of students with disabilities

In order to promote the education of persons with disabilities is appropriate government and local authority expected to undertake any measures?

Yes.
In order to promote education among persons with disabilities the appropriate government and local authority is expected to take the following measures
to conduct survey of school going children in every five years for identifying children with disabilities, ascertaining their special needs and the extent to which these are being met.

  1.  to establish adequate number of teacher training institutions.
  2.  to train and employ teachers, including teachers with disability who are qualified in sign language and Braille and also teachers who are trained in teaching children with intellectual disability.
  3.  to train professionals and staff to support inclusive education at all levels of school education
  4.  to establish adequate number of resource centres to support educational institutions at all levels of school education.
  5.  to promote the use of appropriate augmentative and alternative modes including means and formats of communication, Braille and sign language to supplement the use of one’s own speech to fulfill the daily communication needs of persons with speech, communication or language disabilities and enables them to participate and contribute to their community and society.
  6.  to provide books, other learning materials and appropriate assistive devices to students with benchmark disabilities free of cost up to the age of eighteen years.
  7.  to provide scholarships in appropriate cases to students with benchmark disability.
  8.  to make suitable modifications in the curriculum and examination system to meet the needs of students with disabilities such as extra time for completion of examination paper, facility of scribe or amanuensis, exemption from second and third language courses.
  9.  to promote research to improve learning.
  10.  to promote, protect and ensure participation of persons with disabilities in adult education and continuing education programmes equally with others

Other than rights available to persons with disabilities, does the RPWD Act provide any special benefits to persons with benchmark disabilities?

Yes.
The Act lays down certain benefits for persons with benchmark disabilities which are as follows:

  1.  Free education for children between the ages of 6 to 18 with benchmark disabilities
  2.  Reservation in higher educational institutions of not less than 5% for government institutions or government aided institutions
  3.  Upper age relaxation of 5 years for admission in government or government aided institutions
  4.  Identification of posts for reservation

Which type of establishment come under the ambit of the RPWD Act?

The Act is made applicable to both government establishment and private establishments.

What is a ‘government establishment’?

A government establishment can be any one of the following:

  1.  corporation established by or under a Central Act or State Act
  2.  an authority or a body owned or controlled or aided by the Government or a local authority
  3.  Government Company as defined in section 2 of the Companies Act, 2013 and includes a Department of the Government.

What is ‘private establishment’?

A private establishment can be any one of the following:
a company, firm, cooperative or other society, associations, trust, agency, institution, organization, union, factory or such other establishment as the appropriate Government may, by notification, specify

In a government establishment what percentage of the total number of vacancies in the cadre strength are to be reserved for persons with benchmark disabilities?

In a government establishment 4% of the total number of vacancies in the cadre strength to be reserved for persons with benchmark disabilities in each group of posts that are meant to be filled with persons with benchmark disabilities. Out of these:

  1. One percent for blind and low vision
  2. One percent for deaf and hard of hearing
  3. One percent for locomotor disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims and muscular dystrophy
  4. One percent for autism, intellectual disability, specific learning disability and mental illness and multiple disabilities

Will employers from private sector receive incentives to employ persons with benchmark disabilities?

Yes.
Under the Act, employers from the private sector can avail incentives from the ‘appropriate governments’ and ‘local authorities’ in case of 5% of their work force is composed of persons with benchmark disabilities.

What are the obligations of an establishment under the RPWD Act?

Under the RPWD Act every establishment is required to fulfil the following obligations:

  1.  to publish an equal opportunity policy in accordance with the RPWD Rules
  2.  to register a copy of equal opportunity policy with either the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) or the State Commission for Persons with Disabilities (SCPD)
  3.  to publish the equal opportunity on establishment’s website or at conspicuous places in the establishment
  4.  to ensure that persons with disabilities are not discriminated on the basis of disability
  5.  to maintain a register of records of persons with disabilities employed in the manner specified under the RPWD Rules
  6.  to appoint a liason officer if establishment has more than 20 employees
  7.  not to deny any promotion to employee with disability merely on the ground of their disability
  8.  to make existing buildings accessible and also to build new buildings as per the accessibility rules
  9.  to make all web content accessible as per the rules on web accessibility

Do government establishments have specific obligations under the RPWD Act?

Yes.
Along with the obligations prescribed for any establishment under the RPWD Act, government establishment have the following obligations:

  1.  to provide reasonable accommodation and barrier free environment to its employees with disabilities
  2.  Not to dispense with or reduce in rank, an employee who acquires a disability during his or her service
  3.  To appoint a grievance redressal officer and to inform the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) or State Commission for persons with disabilities (SCPD)

To provide reservation up to 4% of the total number of vacancies in the cadre strength to be reserved for persons with benchmark disabilities in each group of posts that are meant to be filled with persons with benchmark disabilities.
Out of these:

  1.  One percent for blind and low vision
  2. One percent for deaf and hard of hearing3)
  3. One percent for locomotor disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims and muscular dystrophy
  4.  One percent for autism, intellectual disability, specific learning disability and mental illness and multiple disabilities

In order to provide reservation to persons with benchmark disabilities in government establishments Under the RPWD Act what responsibility is cast upon appropriate government?

In order to provide reservation to persons with benchmark disabilities the appropriate government is required to

  1.  identify posts in the government establishments which can be held by respective category of persons with benchmark disabilities in respect of the vacancies reserved for them
  2.  constitute an expert committee with representation of persons with benchmark disabilities for identification of such posts
  3.  undertake periodic review of the identified posts at an interval not exceeding three years
  4.  make appointment of persons with benchmark disabilities in government establishment for the posts identified and reserved for them
  5.  issue instructions on providing reservation in promotion
  6.  exempt any Government establishment from providing reservation after consulting the CCPD or SCPD by issuing notification based on the work carried in such government establishment
  7.  provide for such relaxation of upper age limit for employment of persons with benchmark disability, as it thinks fit by issuing notification

Is appropriate government and local authority required to formulate schemes for the benefit of persons with benchmark disabilities

Yes.
The RPWD Act states that by notification, appropriate government and local authorities shall make schemes in favour of persons with benchmark disabilities, to provide,—

  1.  five per cent. reservation in allotment of agricultural land and housing in all relevant schemes and development programmes, with appropriate priority to women with benchmark disabilities;
  2. five per cent. reservation in all poverty alleviation and various developmental schemes with priority to women with benchmark disabilities;
  3.  five per cent. reservation in allotment of land on concessional rate, where such land is to be used for the purpose of promoting housing, shelter, setting up of occupation, business, enterprise, recreation centres and production centres.

Does the Act provide for establishment of special forum and also what are its functions

The Act provides for establishment of Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) having its office at New Delhi and State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (SCPD) in each state. Some of the important functions of CCPD as well as SCPD are as under

  1.  To identify if provisions of any act,policy, programme and procedure is inconsistent with the RPWD Act and to make corrective recommendations.
  2.  To enquire into any matters relating to deprivation of rights of persons with disabilities and to make appropriate recommendations.
  3.  To review the safeguards available under various Acts including the RPWD Act for safeguarding the rights of persons with disabilities and to make recommendations for their effective implementation.
  4.  To review all factors which reduce the enjoyment of rights of persons with disabilities and to recommend appropriate remedial measures.
  5. To promote awareness of the rights of persons with disabilities along with the various safeguards in place for their protection.
  6.  To monitor the implementation of the RPWD Act along with various schemes, programmes, etc., in place for persons with disabilities.
  7.  To monitor the funds disbursed for the benefit of persons with disabilities
  8.  To undertake and promote research in the field of the rights of persons with disabilities.
    i. CCPD in particular shall study treaties and other international instruments on the rights of persons with disabilities and shall also make recommendations for their effective implementation.

What are the penalties for non compliance of the RPWD Act?

  1. Any person who contravenes any of the provisions of this Act, or of any rule made here under, shall, for first contravention be punishable with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees and for any subsequent contravention with fine which shall not be less than fifty thousand rupees but which may extend to five lakh rupees.
  2. In case any offense under the Act is committed by a company then Officers in charge in the company, as well as the company shall be punished for non-compliance with the provisions of the Act.
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