Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPwD Act)

April 23, 2024

The Supreme Court recently lamented that the implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPWD Act) remains dismal across India.

About Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPwD Act):

  • It replaced the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights, and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
  • Its objective is to ensure that all persons with disabilities can lead their lives with dignity, without discrimination and with equal opportunities.
  • It incorporates the rights of persons with disabilities covered under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory.
  • Under the Act, disability has been defined as an evolving and dynamic concept. The types of disabilities have been increased from existing 7 to 21, and the Central Government will have the power to add more types of disabilities.
    • The types of disabilities include Leprosy Cured Person, Cerebral Palsy, Acid Attack Victims, Blindness, Deaf, Specific Learning Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Parkinson’s Disease, Haemophilia, etc.
  • Persons with "benchmark disabilities" are defined as those certified to have at least 40 percent of the disabilities specified. 
  • Rights and entitlements:
    • Responsibility has been cast upon the appropriate governments to take effective measures to ensure that persons with disabilities (PwDs) enjoy their rights equally with others.
    • Additional benefits have been provided for persons with benchmark disabilities and those with high support needs.
    • Every child with a benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education.
    • 5% reservation in seats in Government and Government aided higher educational institutions for persons with benchmark disabilities.
    • Stress has been given to ensure accessibility in public buildings (both Government and private) in a prescribed time-frame.
    • 4% reservation in Government jobs for certain persons or class of persons with benchmark disability.
    • Guardianship: The Act provides for the grant of guardianship by the District Court or any authority designated by the State Government under which there will be joint decision–making between the guardian and the PwDs.
    • Broad-based Central and State Advisory Boards on Disability to be set up as policy-making bodies.
    • It provides for the strengthening of the Office of Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities and the State Commissioners of Disabilities, which will act as regulatory bodies and Grievance Redressal agencies and also monitor the implementation of the Act.
      • These Offices will be assisted by an Advisory Committee comprising of experts in various disabilities.
    • Creation of National and State Fund to provide financial support to the PwDs.
  • Penalties for offences:
    • It provides for penalties for offences committed against PwDs and also for violations of the provisions of the new law.
    • Any person who violates provisions of the Act, or any rule or regulation made under it, shall be punishable with imprisonment up to six months and/ or a fine of Rs 10,000, or both.
    • For any subsequent violation, imprisonment of up to two years and/or a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs five lakh can be awarded.
    • Whoever intentionally insults or intimidates a PwD or sexually exploits a woman or child with a disability, shall be punishable with imprisonment between six months to five years and fine.
    • Special Courts will be designated in each district to handle cases concerning violations of the rights of PwDs.