Law’s scope much widened, rights expanded after over a decade
SRINAGAR: After a delay of many years, the Social Welfare Department has finally passed the bill for the Jammu and Kashmir Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2018, which would empower more than three lakh persons with disabilities in the state.
Fourteen new types of disabilities have been incorporated into the new Act, raising the number covered from the existing seven to 21 categories.
The disabilities covered under the new legislation are: Blindness, Low Vision, Leprosy Cured Persons, Hearing Impairment, Locomotive Disability, Dwarfism, Intellectual Disability, Mental Illness, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Chronic Neurological Conditions, Specific Learning Disabilities, Multiple Sclerosis, Speech and Language Disability, Thalassemia, Haemophilia, Sickle Cell Disease, Multiple Disabilities, Acid Attack Victim and Parkinson’s Disease.
On the basic of anonymity, an official in the Social Welfare Department told Kashmir Reader, “Pellet victims will also be able to receive the benefits of this Act. Earlier, the department promised to build some schools for the pellet victims, but nothing was done.”
“The previous law was not able to resolve/target various social and economic challenges faced by persons with disabilities and was treating disability only as a medical condition. The Disability Act of 2018 will be more in consonance with present norms as compared to the previous legislation, which was enacted more than a decade ago and is in force till date without any major amendments,” the official further said.
Benefits included under this Bill are admission of Persons with Disability (PwDs) to educational institutions without discrimination, provision of vocational training and self-employment opportunities and non-discrimination in employment. The Bill also provides for free education of children.
“Reservation for PwDs has been enhanced from 3 to 4 percent, and now there is also a provision of guardianship, a grievance redressal mechanism besides insurance cover for employees with disabilities,” said Abdul Rashid, President of the Jammu and Kashmir Handicapped Association.
“Now a social audit of all general schemes and programmes involving PwDs will also be undertaken to ensure that the said schemes and programmes have no adverse impact upon PwDs and their needs and requirements,” he further said.
The Bill seeks to provide speedy trial for offences under the Act by establishment of special courts. It also provides for the constitution of a state fund for PwDs.
The new law will not only enhance the rights and entitlements of PwDs but will also provide an effective mechanism for ensuring their empowerment and their positive and meaningful inclusion into society.
As per the 2011 census, there are over 3.60 lakh people, nearly three percent of the state’s population, with disabilities in J&K. Of this number, 2.8 lakh persons are visually impaired, 38,000 are physically challenged, 17,000 have a speech disability and 13,000 are hearing impaired.