New Delhi, Dec 14: The government has passed a total of 119 amendments to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014. The draft will replace the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995. India became a participant of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the year 2007 and the Bill has been brought to act in accordance with it.

The draft was stuck in Rajya Sabha since February 2014 as UPA’s government had ended right after it was brought in. Now that the Disability Bill has been passed, let’s start by reading what the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 was and what amendments have been made to the Bill:

  1. The Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 identifies 7 disabilities which include blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impairment, locomotor disability, mental retardation and mental illness.
  2. The 2014 Bill, which was introduced right before UPA’s term ended, had added 19 more conditions to enlarge the definition of disability. The 2014 Bill included cerebral palsy, haemophilia, multiple sclerosis, and autism among others. The 2014 Bill had also allowed the central government to add more.
  3. The Bill makes a larger number of people eligible for rights on the grounds of their disability. The rights include reservations in government jobs and welfare schemed among others.
  4. The revision to the Disability Bill recognises acid attacks and Parkinson’s disease as disabilities.
  5. The amendments to the Disability Bill also make a particular mention of the requirements of women and children with disabilities. It also makes sure that the people with disabilities are provided with barrier-free access in buildings, transport systems and all kinds of public infrastructure.
  6. The Bill promises 5 per cent reservation for persons with benchmark disabilities.
  7. The 2014 Bill made infringement of the any provision of the Bill punishable with a jail term of up to 6 months, and/or a fine of Rs 10,000. The anticipated Bill has proposed to do away with the jail term.
  8. Also, the Bill is expected to eliminate any kind of discrimination against people with disabilities. It defines discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction on the basis of disability damaging the exercise on an equal basis of rights in the political, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”