The Disabled in India’Issues and Their Rights
According to 2001 census, the disabled constitute 2.19 crore persons, constituting, thus, 2.13% of the total population of the country. “These include people with visual, hearing, speech, locomotors and mental disabilities. Disability, as defined in the Persons with the Disabilities Act, 1995, means (i) blindness, (ii) low vision, (iii) leprosy ‘ cured, (iv) Hearing impairment, (v) locomotion disability, (vi) mental retardation, (vii) mental illness.
“The Act asks the appropriate government and local authorities to formulate schemes for ensuring employment of persons with disabilities, and such schemes which may provide for (a) the training and welfare of persons with disabilities; (b) the relaxation of upper age limit; (c) regulating the employment; (d) health and safety measure and creation of non-handicapping environment in places where persons with disabilities are employed. “The disabled, usually, become an object of exploitation by some, while the others see them as an object of sympathy. “They do not obtain supplemental security income and are, thus, dependent financially and physically on able-bodied people: among the poor families the disabled constitute about 55%, 30% in the middle class families, and 15% (from the affluent families. “They need to be ensured financially; they need to be integrated with the community as a whole; they need to be assured of employment as per their abilities, and provided with facilities; they need to be assured of social security assistance. “The Supreme Court of India, in Swatantra Kumar v. Qamar Ali and others, 1998 sought generous social security measures for the disabled.
“The Disabilities Act seeks the provision for such assistance for the disabled as: (a) aid and appliances for them; (b) preferential allotment of land at concessional rates for (i) houses, (ii) setting up business, (iii) establishment for schools.
“The disabled have the right to have easy access in railways and buses; seek slopes to be made for wheel chair users; the right not to be reduced in rank when in employment; preferential treatment in matters related to educational and employment facilities; nor they would be denied any promotion merely on grounds of disability. “There are provisions for giving facilities to the children with disabilities, especially those related to education. In order to promote employment of persons with disabilities in organized formal sectors, the Act provides for a scheme of quota to the extent of 3% in all government departments (Central and State governments). Significantly, the judiciary has acted in favour of the disabled: some such cases can be cited.
In the National Federation of Blinds v. the State of Uttar Pradesh, 2000, the Supreme Court held that despite any scheme not existing, the disabled be given preferential treatment. In the Vijay K. Agarwal v. State of Rajasthan, 2001 the court adjudged Dr. Vijay Agarwal’s request valid the provisions of the Persons with Disabilities Act (PDA) be complied with for the disabled. In Pushkar Singh and Others v. University of Delhi and Others, 1994’95 the court insisted on 3 percent reservation of seats in appointments for the disabled. “The office of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities takes steps to safeguard rights and facilities available to the disabled and looks into complaints with respectto deprivation of the rights belonging to the disabled.