Rights groups seek passing of disability Bill in Parliament

Expressing disappointment over the inordinate delay on part of Parliament in introducing the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, disability rights groups are planning to hold candlelight vigils in various parts of the country and outside the Vice President's house as a sign of protest.

"Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had given an assurance that the Bill would be introduced in the winter session of Parliament. The Union Cabinet has even given its approval for the Bill. But it still hasn't been introduced and we don't understand why.

It is our demand that when the Parliament session is convened to pass the Vote of Account in January/February, this extremely important piece of legislation be taken up by both the Houses of Parliament

for enactment," Javed Abidi, Convener, Disabled Rights Group, said.

With India ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007, it was expected that all four disability legislations Mental Health Act, 1987, Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992, Persons With Disability Act, 1995, and the National Trust Act, 1999, would be harmonised with provisions of UNCRPD. While the Mental Health Care Bill was introduced in Parliament, the Bill replacing the 1995 Disability Act is yet to be introduced.

Members also plan on approaching political parties to garner support. "Just because we don't sit on dharnas,

doesn't mean that the political class can take us lightly," Muralidharan, secretary, National Platform for The Rights of the Disabled, said.

In Delhi, the vigil will be held outside the Vice President's House, from 5 pm till midnight on New Year's eve, with the disabled from across India attending the event.

Prominent activists from the disabled community, such as A S Narayanan (National Association of Deaf People), Jitender Gupta (National Association for the Blind), spoke for the Bill at the event.

"If we believe disabled have a right to self-determination, we should pass this Bill," G Syamali, an activist, said.

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