Guest post by Amba Salelkar, Inclusive Planet Centre for Disability Law and Policy
The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill was meant to be an enactment to codify India’s obligations under the UNCRPD, which it ratified without reservations. There was a Committee set up in 2009 by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, headed by Smt. Sudha Kaul, to draft a Bill to this effect. Like the UNCRPD says, the Committee included different people with disabilities – across disabilities – to draft this Bill. The Draft Bill of 2011 was submitted to the Ministry, and in response to that or otherwise, the Ministry released a Draft Bill in 2012, which are both on the Ministry’s website.
The Draft Bill of 2012 is not as comprehensive and inclusive as the 2011 one, and there were certain serious issues raised before the Ministry on the notification of the 2012 Draft. Thereafter the Draft, apparently still in its 2012 format, went to the various Cabinet Minstries, and then circulated among States. Some version of this Bill was cleared by Cabinet in December 2013. Thereafter, organizations of persons with disabilities, confident that the 2012 Draft was intact, began protests for the speedy introduction and passage of the Bill. I do not know why they did not believe that there had been changes made, but I assume it was in good faith. These protests were largely led by groups in Delhi who had better access to information. Some pockets of regional groups were demanding for information on the contents of the Bill. They remained unanswered. Meenakshi B of the Disability Rights Alliance, Tamil Nadu, followed up with the Ministries and the general passage of the Bill, and she was told that the Bill was ‘top secret’. Vaishnavi J, one of the founders of The Banyan, also received similar cryptic feedback.
On Wednesday, the 22nd of January, Adv. Santosh Kumar Rungta released a copy of the Bill along with his comments on how it was unsatisfactory on the point of reservations. This was not an official release. When I read the Bill I was shocked at how not only had it completely changed the 2012 Draft, it was also oscillating between lip service and absolute violations of the UNCRPD. Parliament sits on the 5th of Feb now, and since we are dealing with people with disabilities here, it is difficult to spread accessible information and raise debate because of their unique needs, even so, we are trying. Inclusive Planet has prepared an analysis of the Bill with respect to India’s obligations under the UNCRPD and NALSAR has released a comparison between the 2012 Bill and this Bill as well. 
You might want to look into this. Personally I feel that the needs of Persons with Disabilities are being sacrificed for a quickfix social legislation on the part of the Congress Government to campaign with. There is no question of reference to the standing committee, because there is no time before Parliament is dissolved before elections for the three months for a SC to give its report.
Unlike some organziations who have decided to give a list of amendments to Cabinet to carry out in the Bill pre introduction, we believe that there is not enough time for this to be a democratic process with all persons with disabilities included, and so for now we want the Ministry to withdraw the Bill from Cabinet for reconsideration on account of this grave, for lack of a better word, fraud, played by the Ministry in making so many changes without even releasing the Bill in the public before its introduction in Cabinet.
Detailed Analysis of the draft bill:
The Draft Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill was shrouded in mystery since its notification on the website of the Ministry of Social Justice and Welfare in 2012. For a Bill that was touted to be framed by an inclusive process, the version of the Bill cleared by cabinet was only made available to the general public just a fortnight before the proposed parliamentary session which seeks its introduction and passing.
As the Inclusive Planet Centre for Disability Law and Policy works across disabilities and across sectors, I found that it was best to examine the Bill from the perspective of the UNCRPD and whether its Articles and therefore India’s obligations, were complied with, before analyzing individual provisions for other infirmities. I chose not to compare the Bill to its previous drafts at this initial stage because the objective of this Bill is clearly to enact India’s obligations under the UNCRPD and for this exercise such analysis was not relevant.
A reading of the Bill reveals that there is a complete lack of understanding of the approach of the UNCRPD on the part of the drafting Committee. From abridged definitions which are extremely crucial and clear under the convention, to grammatical errors, to plain callousness, the Bill fails utterly in its lofty self stated objective to implement the UNCRPD. Some of the most crucial provisions of the UNCRPD which were celebrated in the disability movement – the adoption of the social model of definition of disability in Article 1, the concept of reasonable accommodation under Article 2, the right to full legal capacity under Article 12, the right to independent living under Article 19, the right to accessibility under Article 9, respect for home and the family under Article 23, the right to inclusive education under Article 24, and the right to participation in political and public life, have all been either diluted or outright ignored by the drafting committee of this Bill. I have recorded instances of UNCRPD violations and not omissions at the present time.
The IPCDLP wishes to place on record our strong opposition to this Bill in its present format. It is felt that there is no excuse for such a sloppily drafted Bill, especially after all the hard work many persons in the disabilities movement have put in during the initial stages of its drafting. I personally fear that if introduced, it might go on to be enacted without any scope of intervention, due to the short time frame the present Government has.
I would like to place on record the valuable inputs from Meenakshi, Rajiv Rajan, Vaishavi Jayakumar and Dr. V.S. Sunder of the Disability Rights Alliance, Tamil Nadu, as well as the inputs of Bhargavi Davar, Bapu Trust, Pune, and Pavan Muntha, Swaadhikaar, Hyderabad, and Ketan Kothari of Sightsavers, Mumbai, that I have taken the liberty of using in this draft. I hope to have many more inputs over the next few days from my more experienced friends in the Sector.
Article 1, Purpose: The Convention seeks to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities. To this end, the definition of “persons with disabilities” is an inclusive definition, and include those “who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.” Thus, the definition links the barriers which exist in society to the impairment and therefore moves away from the medical approach to the social approach. The Bill, in Section 2 (q), curtails the definition under the UNCRPD, and limits the definition of “persons with disabilities” to “long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which hinder (sic) his full and effective participation in society equally with others”. By removing the reference to barriers, the focus is on the impairment of the person, which goes entirely against the purport of the UNCRPD, that the focus should be on removal of the barriers that exist in society, and not focusing on the impairment. For a Bill that claims to be implementing the UNCRPD in its objectives, the correct starting point would perhaps have been to understood the approach of the Convention, along with using the correct definitions. The fact that the definition of disability is misunderstood by the drafting committee is further exemplified by the scheduling of “specified disabilities” under Section 2 (x) of the Bill.
Article 3, General Principles: One of the General Principles of the Convention is the respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity. The Draft Bill does a great disservice by the inclusion of Section 24 (2) and the stress on “Prevention of Disabilities” in sub clauses (a) and (b). While there is no doubt that many disabilities are preventable, this becomes the prerogative of the Ministry of Health and associated bodies, and not that of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment which is responsible for the well being of persons with disabilities. To single out a group of persons to be essentially a “failure to prevent” by the State violates the Purpose under Article 1 of the UNCRPD to promote respect for the inherent dignity of persons with disabilities. Similarly, disability is not a curse or an ailment that a person “suffers from” – unlike what the Bill states while defining “Special Employment Exchanges” under Section 2 (w).
Article 4, General Obligations: India is obliged to adopt all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention. The rights guaranteed are cross sectoral and cross disability, and therefore requires every Ministry and Department to be able to review their policies to ensure compliance with the UNCRPD. At the very least, there is a requirement for a Body that can ensure responsiveness of all policies and programmes across departments and Ministries towards respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities. Section 64, lays down the Functions of the Central Advisory Board on Disability, which is to “advise the Central Government and State Governments on policies, programmes, legislation and projects with regard to disability.” Another function is to “review and coordinate the activities of all Departments…dealing with persons with disabilities”. The wording of these sections create a very limited role, and the Advisory Board will not be empowered to recognize the needs of accessibility and reasonable accommodation in other mainstream legislations. Thus, there is no effective engine of implementation of the rights under the Convention.
Article 5, Equality and Non Discrimination: According to the UNCRPD, State Parties are to grant an unconditional Right to Equality and Non Discrimination to all persons with disabilities, on par with others. In the Draft Bill of 2012, the Right to Equality is curtailed under Section 3 (3), which says that the right against discrimination exists “unless it can be shown that the impugned act or omission is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”. The terms “proportionate means” and “legitimate aim” are highly subjective, and this could be a means of perpetuating discrimination. As a matter of fact, the term “discrimination on the basis of disability”, comprehensively defined under the UNCRPD, does not even find mention in this Bill.
Article 9, Accessibility: The UNCRPD has extremely wide ranging provisions on accessibility, and extends it to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. Thus it is clear that it extends to buildings, services etc. which are provided both by the State as well as by Private Entities. In Section 39 of the Bill, standards of accessibility are delegated to the National Commission for the physical environment, transportation, information and communications, including appropriate technologies and systems, and other facilities and services provided to the public in urban and rural areas. The Section only speaks of standards, and not enforcing them. Further, the next following Sections severely clamp down on what the UNCRPD provides. In Section 40, the facilities for persons with disabilities at bus stops, railway stations and airports appear to require to conform to the accessibility standards (presumably laid down by the National Commission) relating only to to parking spaces, toilets, ticketing counters and ticketing machines. The limiting of accessibility standards to these 4 areas is inexplicable. Secondly, the access to public transport is also severely limited. It is only mandated wherever technically feasible and safe for persons with disabilities, economically viable and without entailing major structural changes in design. This is extremely vague and means that in practice, it would never actually be implemented. In light of this, any “incentives and concessions” for persons with disabilities would be entirely meaningless.
Section 43, which deals with “mandatory observance of accessibility norms” violates the UNCRPD extension of accessibility measures to all services and places “open or provided to the public”. The interpretation of this is not limiting it to Government Buildings. However, the Section limits mandatory observance of accessibility norms only to “establishments”, defined under Section 2 (h) to mean “a corporation established by or under a Central Act or State Act or an authority or a body owned or controlled or aided by the Government or a local authority or a Government company as defined in section 2 of the Companies Act, 2013 and includes Department of a Government”. Thus, all other buildings are excluded from its purview, which makes the provision meaningless to persons with disabilities.
Section 44 refers to “all existing public buildings” having to be made accessible. The term “public building” is not defined under the Bill. However, reading Section 43 and 44 together, it appears that Section 44 extends again only to “establishments”, and Section 43 refers to before commissioning, completion and occupation, and Section 44 refers to those already in existence. Again therefore, anything which is not an “establishment” will be outside the purview of the Bill. This is furthered by sub section (2) which refers to the appropriate Government and local authorities providing accessibility in all their buildings and spaces providing essential services and lists primary health centres, civil hospitals, schools, railway stations and bus stops – all under Governmental control.
The common thread that runs through these Sections is access to the physical environment and moving around the same, in a strictly physical sense. The use of terms like transport, roads, and reference to completion certificates for possession of buildings etc. indicate that stress is on the built environment and therefore physical access. However, the question of assistance which is outside the physical movement requirements, like sign language interpretation, or Braille/large print signage, or other forms of specialized and/or live assistance, is excluded from this, which are expressly provided for in Sub-clause 2 (d) and (e) of the Article.
Section 45 deals with “service providers”. “Service providers” is not defined under the Bill. “Service”, under laws like the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and the Competition Act, 2002, comprise of a wide range of services which could be provided by both the Government and private entities. However, under the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Section 2 (j): “service provider” means the Government and includes a licensee”) the term is defined differently. In case of ambiguity in interpretation, the limiting of the other Sections in this Chapter to Government run buildings will tend to indicate that “service providers” will be those services under Government regulation. The use of “transportation, information and communications, including appropriate technologies and systems” in Section 39 sets the trend of the manner in which “service providers” will be interpreted, and since these are all regulated by the Government largely, the services covered under this clause may also be limited to the same.
Article 12, Equal Protection before the Law: One of the hallmarks of the UNCRPD is the recognition of legal capacity for all persons with disabilities. Two clauses may be reiterated here: 1. States Parties reaffirm that persons with disabilities have the right to recognition everywhere as persons before the law; and 2. States Parties shall recognize that persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life. Neither of these statements have been reflected in the Bill in Section 12. The Section also refers to “support arrangements” without making any mention of safeguards, unlike the protocol mandated under the UNCRPD.
Section 13 of the Bill refers to guardianship, and only concerns the “mentally ill”, presumably as defined under Schedule 1 of the Bill. By implication, therefore, the guardianship mechanisms under the National Trust Act will still prevail and those persons will still be deemed to be without legal capacity. “Limited guardians” shall be appointed for persons who are declared to be mentally ill and incapable of taking care of themselves and making legally binding decisions for themselves. The wording of the Section is that the limited guardian “shall take all legally binding decisions on his or her behalf, in consultation with that person”. The Section is unambiguous that the ultimate decision making power lies with the guardian, whereas the shift should be from substituted decision making to supported decision making.
Though persons with disabilities are granted the right to own or inherit property; control their financial affairs; obtain access to bank loans, mortgages and other forms of financial credit in Section 12 (1), there is no effective manner of realizing these rights, and the right under Article 12 of the UNCRPD to not to be arbitrarily deprived of their property is absent.
Additionally, the creation of the category of persons with “high support needs” for whom an Assessment Board can make decisions on behalf of, under Section 37, potentially clamps down on the legal capacity of persons other than those already covered under the National Trust Act and the Mental Health Act, as there is no bar on the appointment of guardians for these persons. There are no guidelines on the manner of “high support” which may or may not be granted to these persons as well.
Article 14, Liberty and Security of Person: According to The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in their Austria Report, of September, 2013, non-consensual institutionalization of persons with disabilities is said to be violative of Article 14. The Committee urged that all necessary legislative, administrative and judicial measures were taken to ensure that no one is detained against their will and the State party was urged to develop deinstitutionalization strategies based on the human rights model of disability. The Bill supports institutionalization and Chapter IX and does not specifically bar any institutionalization which is without a person’s consent, either by a family member or at the instance of the Assessment Board in respect of persons with “high support needs”. Section 51 speaks of returning a person with disability in a derecognized institution “restored to the custody of his or her parent or spouse or lawful guardian” or “transferring them to any other institution” which once again goes back to the violation of Article 12 of not recognizing persons with disabilities are persons before the law. It is also worth pointing out that since the institutionalization under this Chapter is for all persons with disabilities, it gives further credence to the understanding that legal capacity is in question for all persons with disabilities, and not just those under the Mental Health/National Trust Act.
Article 15, Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment:
The proposed Section 5 does not provide for any effective realization of this right and merely obliges the “appropriate government” to take measures to protect “person with disability (sic) from being subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The Section is completely silent on the issue of “punishment” and hence behaviour which would be cruel and inhuman but meant as a punishment for misbehaving students/persons living in institutions would be condoned. The right of protection against scientific experimentation or testing except with the free and informed consent of the individual is seriously compromised by the recognition of guardians under Section 13 who are empowered to take “all legally binding decisions” on behalf of their wards.
Article 16, Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse: While the proposed Section 6 details many steps towards effective realization of this freedom it misses out an extremely crucial requirement of the UNCRPD – that in order to prevent the occurrence of all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, States Parties are obligated to ensure that all facilities and programmes designed to serve persons with disabilities are effectively monitored by independent authorities. This is especially relevant with regard to the encouragement given to institutionalization and guardianship under the Bill. The lack of monitoring mechanisms, which have been long criticized as encouraging the abuse of persons with disabilities, is a violation of the UNCRPD.
Article 17, Protecting the Integrity of the Person: Though Section 3 says that the “appropriate Government shall ensure that the persons with disabilities enjoy…respect for his or her integrity equally with others”, the Bill fails to reiterate the specific wording of the UNCRPD that “(e)very person with disabilities has a right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity on an equal basis with others.” The use of the words physical and mental integrity are important, and are obviously left out by the drafters of the Bill, because by allowing for institutionalization and guardianship, neither physical nor mental integrity of persons with disabilities are respected.
Article 19, Living Independently and being included in the Community: The Bill, in Section 4, curtails the rights granted under the UNCRPD by retaining only the negative right i.e. of not being forced to live in any particular living arrangement, and not the positive right of having the opportunity to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live on an equal basis with others. This potentially creates obstacles when looking at the effective realization of the rights under Article 23 of the UNCRPD as well.
Article 21, Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information: The UNCRPD recognizes the States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas on an equal basis with others and through all forms of communication of their choice. Communication has a very specific definition in Article 2, and includes languages, display of text, Braille, tactile communication, large print, accessible multimedia as well as written, audio, plain-language, human-reader and augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, including accessible information and communication technology. Languages are defined as well in Article 2, and includes spoken and signed languages and other forms of non spoken languages. While the definition of communication is incorporated in the Bill, with minor grammatical changes, the definition of “language” is absent. This is highly problematic, as there is no specific recognition of sign language. Later on, in Section 16 (f), which pertains to education, the Appropriate Government is obliged to to promote the use of appropriate augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, Braille and Sign Language, to supplement one’s own speech to fulfil the daily communication needs of persons with speech, communication or language disabilities and enables them to participate and contribute to their community and society. This Section is problematic, because of the use of the words “promote” and “supplement” and the ambiguity of “one’s”. It also creates a leeway for introducing mandatory and accepted means of communication which will be “recognized” as opposed to others, which is not the intention of the UNCRPD.
Article 23, Respect for home and the family: The Bill states that no person with disability shall be subject to any medical procedure which leads to infertility without his or her free consent, in Section 9 (2). For persons with psychosocial disabilities, who will be placed under guardianship under Section 13 of the proposed Bill, the question of their own consent does not arise as their guardian, be it limited or plenary, is empowered to take “all legally binding decisions” on their behalf.
In addition, the right under the UNCRPD for all persons with disabilities who are of marriageable age to marry and to found a family on the basis of free and full consent of the intending spouses, is gravely threatened by the failure of the Bill to categorically grant legal capacity to all persons with disabilities. Those under a system of guardianship will still be unable to exercise this right.
Article 24, Education: The UNCRPD mandates State parties to ensure that persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability, and that children with disabilities are not excluded from free and compulsory primary education, or from secondary education, on the basis of disability. It further stipulates that persons with disabilities have the right to access an inclusive, quality and free primary education and secondary education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live. The right of children with disabilities to access inclusive education is recognized by the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, more particularly in the Amendments carried out to the Act in 2012. Section 30 of the proposed Bill actually creates a non-obstante clause, which excludes the application of the 2009 Act to children with “benchmark disabilities” i.e. more than 40% of a ‘specified disability’.
The first clause of this Section may end up excluding children with benchmark disabilities from the right to free and compulsory education, and limits it only to free (though the right the free education extends to 18 years), which effectively means a denial of the rights under the UNCRPD and various other Human Rights Documents like the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1990 to free and compulsory primary education. The right to compulsory education till the age of 14 is still protected by Article 21-A of the Constitution of India, but the qualification in the Constitution is that “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.
The second part of the clause states that every child with benchmark disabilities has a right to education in a neighbourhood school, or in a special school, “if necessary”. There is no clarity as to who is to determine the necessity. If the child falls under the category of “high support needs”, then this decision may be carried out by the assessment board. The question of where the child should study should be decided, as far as possible, by the children themselves, according to Article 7 of the UNCRPD, which grants children with disabilities the right to express their views freely on all matters affecting them, their views being given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity, on an equal basis with other children, and to be provided with disability and age-appropriate assistance to realize that right. This decision can also be taken by the parents of the child, as per Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which recognizes that parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. By not specifying and prioritizing who deems the move to special schools “necessary”, there is a violation of the UNCRPD.
Besides this, Clause 2 (c) of the Article provides that “Reasonable accommodation of the individual’s requirements is provided” in education. Section 15, which deals with “Duty of Educational Institutions” with regard to inclusive education, does not include any such obligation.
Article 27, Work and Employment: mandates that, under sub clause (i), that State Parties should ensure that “reasonable accommodation is provided to persons with disabilities in the workplace”. Reasonable accommodation is a specific term defined under the UNCRPD and “means necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.”. In Section 2 of the proposed Bill, the term finds a slightly modified definition for reasons best known to the drafting committee and means “necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments without imposing disproportionate or undue burden in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise of rights equally with others.”. Be that as it may, Section 19 of the proposed Bill which pertains to “non discrimination in employment”, merely specifies that every establishment shall provide “appropriate environment” to persons with disabilities. “Appropriate environment” is not defined under the Bill. Therefore, the provisions relating to the workplace environment with respect to persons with disabilities is extremely vague and not in compliance with the UNCRPD. This could even mean, for example, sheltered and segregated workshops.
Section 32 of the proposed Bill speaks of the identification of posts which can be reserved for persons with benchmark disabilities. This is violative of the UNCRPD in as much as the present Article provides for the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability with regard to all matters concerning all forms of employment, including conditions of recruitment, hiring and employment, continuance of employment, career advancement and safe and healthy working conditions. Interestingly, the term “discrimination on the basis of disability”, defined under the UNCRPD, is omitted from the proposed Bill, for reasons best known to the drafting committee. Discrimination on the basis of disability is defined to be mean “any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of disability which has the purpose or effect of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis with others, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. It includes all forms of discrimination, including denial of reasonable accommodation.” By denying reasonable accommodation to persons with disabilities in employment, and by granting the State powers to identify posts for reservation, which is a distinction which has the effect of impairing the rights of persons with disabilities, the drafting committee appears to be guilty of discrimination on the basis of disability themselves.
Lastly, by the denial of legal capacity to persons with disabilities, it is difficult to envisage them being eligible for any job prospects because of their possible inability to sign the basic contract of employment.
Article 29, Participation in Political and Public Life: Section 10 of the proposed Bill speaks of “accessibility in voting” and states that the Election Commission of India and the State Election Commission shall ensure that all polling stations are accessible to persons with disabilities and that all materials related to the electoral process are easily understandable by and accessible to them. This is severely limiting the scope of Article 29 – which does not limit the participation of persons with disabilities only to voting but also recognizes the right and opportunity to stand for elections. The right of persons with disabilities to vote by secret ballot in elections and public referendums without intimidation is not recognized, and neither is the right to stand for elections, to effectively hold office and perform all public functions at all levels of government, facilitating the use of assistive and new technologies where appropriate.
In fact, the Bill itself contains express disqualifications for persons of “unsound mind”, in Section 61 (for members of the Central Advisory Board), in Section 67 (for members of the State Advisory Board), and disqualifications for persons who have become “physically and mentally incapable of acting as a member” in Section 71 (for members of the National Commission) and Section 89 (for members of the State Commission) thus completely violating the UNCRPD.
Article 30, Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport: Section 28 of the Bill deals with “culture and recreation”, in an attempt to comply with the UNCRPD. However, the approach of the Bill, with its focus on making mainstream instances of “culture” and “recreation” – like scouting, dancing, outdoor camps, adventure activities – loses the purport of the Article. While the Article undoubtedly speaks of making mainstream cultural activities accessible to persons with disabilities, one of the most important Rights under the Article is that persons with disabilities shall be entitled, on an equal basis with others, to recognition and support of their specific cultural and linguistic identity, including sign languages and deaf culture. This is lost under the Bill, and is therefore a very serious violation of the Right.
Section 29, which deals with “sporting activities”, loses out on an important provision of the Article – to encourage and promote the participation, to the fullest extent possible, of persons with disabilities in mainstream sporting activities at all levels. The Bill does not refer to mainstream sports, and without that specification, the Bill seems to lean towards limiting persons with disabilities to only disability specific sports.
Other resources, like copies of the drafts, existing laws and procedures of parliament and the GOI, are at: