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Disability refers to the disadvantage or restriction of activity caused by the way

society is organized which takes little or no account of people who have physical,
sensory or mental impairments. As a result such people are excluded and prevented
from participating fully on equal terms in mainstream society. Disability is an
unfortunate part of human life which can effect not only the natural way of living
but also despair component strength and power. Persons with disability are most
disadvantaged section of society, they are also neglected in their family. As per
an estimate of World Health Organization, ten percent of the world's population
suffers from one or other disabilities and almost one fifth of the disabled person
of the world lives in India. According to Census 2001, nearly 5% of people in India
are affected with impairment or disability.
In general connotation disability is of two kinds, Legal Disability and Physical
Legal disability can be defined as a the absence of legal capacity to do certain
acts or enjoy certain legal rights. It is divided into two classes- 1. absolute, it
wholly disables the person, like outlawry, excommunication, attainder and acts by
statutory bodies or corporation in excess of their statutory powers; 2. partial as
infancy, lunacy, drunkenness etc.2
Civil disability-
The condition of a person who has had a legal right privilege revoked as a result
of a criminal conviction.3
Physical Disability is of different kinds like Blindness, Leprosy cured persons,
Hearing Impairment, Locomotor Disability, Mental Illness and Mental Retardation,
Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Learning Disabilities(Dyslexia), Writing Disabiluties
(Dysgraphia) etc.
Persons with Disability means a person suffering from not less than forty percent
of any disability as certified by a medical authority.
The main causes of disability are malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a
part of the body at the time of birth, hereditary problem, lack of proper care at
the time of pregnancy and childbirth, lack of consciousness, malnutrition, traffic
accidents, employment injury creates disability, occupational diseases, illness,
environment pollution physical torture, sport accidents, mental and nervous
disorders, use of certain chemicals, drugs, alcohol, smoking, high blood pressure,
old age, obesity may cause disability.
Poverty and disability these two concepts are deeply interrelated. As disability
causes poverty, it is also possible that poverty causes disability. Disability,
physical or mental restricts the choices available to a person due to multiple
deprivations and social discriminations. People living in constrained economy tend
to become disabled because of aggravating factors such as malnutrition and squalid
housing, hazardous occupation and so on.
The incidence of disability is not the same in males and females. Certain health
conditions are more frequent in one of the sexes. For instance, there is a slightly
higher incidence of mental retardation in males, they faces more accidents, they
have certain genetic disorders etc. Females have disabilities caused by motherhood,
osteoporosis etc. Over 6% of India's population is above the age of 60 years.
Because of natural correlation between aging and aging and disability most of the
people will have atleast a short term disability before the end of their lives and
more than half of them may actually have long term disability or chronic condition
which lasts more than 6 months during some periods before the end of their lives.
Obesity is a kind of disability.
All human rights instruments affirm fundamental and inalienable rights to all
persons who are physically disabled. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, 1948, states that, "all human beings are born free and equal in
dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act
towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood".
In the year 1969 an international awareness programme has been adopted in the name
of Declaration on the Social Progress and Development by UN General Assembly.
In 1971 the General assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Mentally
Retarded Persons, taking into account the necessity of providing help to mentally
retarded persons in order to enable them to develop their abilities and promoting
their integration in the normal life. The Declaration recommends a frame work
within which national and international actions should initiated for the
advancement of rights such as medical care, education, training, rehabilitation,
economic security, right to have qualified guardian, protection from exploitation,
abuse, degrading treatment etc.
The year 1981 was announced as the `International Year for Disabled Persons', some
important objectives have been taken to implement in national, regional and
international level.
Another declaration was adopted by the general assembly for mentally retarded
persons in the year 1975, keeping in view, "the necessity of preventing physical
and mental disabilities and of assisting disabled persons to develop their
abilities in the most varied fields of life".
The General Assembly in its resolution in 1982, decided to observe the period of
1983-1992 as United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons and requested the member
states to utilize this period for implementing the World Programme of Action for
Disabled Persons.
India was a member State to the Proclamation on the Full Participation and Equality
of People with Disabilities in the Asian and Pacific region, which was adopted at
the meeting to launch the Asian & pacific Decade of Disabled persons 1993-2002
convened by the Economic and social Commission for Asia and Pacific at Beijing in
The Constitution of India has guaranteed the full protection to the rights of
disabled people. The Preamble of the Constitution embodies the concept of social
justice and equality of status and opportunity to all the people of India. Article
14 & 16 of the Constitution guarantee equality of opportunity to all citizen of
India. Article 38 of the Constitution which falls within Directive Principles of
State Policy, requires the State to promote the welfare of the people by securing a
social order in which social, economic and political justice can inform to all
institutions of national life and the State is required to make efforts to
eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities amongst individuals.
The disabled citizens have the same rights as other citizens to a descent standard
of living and economic security, right to work, education, employment and also
right to access and communication. In India there is a long list of legislations
and regulations which protect and govern the rights and interests of disabled
persons. The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights
and Full Participation) Act, 1995 is the principal and comprehensive legislation
concerning disabled persons. The Acts defines the responsibilities of the Central
and State govt. with regard to the services for disabled persons. Provisions have
been made in this Act for the prevention of disabilities, protection of rights,
provision of medical care, education, training, employment and rehabilitation of
disabled persons. The Act also recommends to create a barrier free environment by
removing all type of discrimination against persons with disabilities where they
can share the development benefits which a normal person enjoys.
The National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental
Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 provides for the establishment of
an institution for the welfare of people with autism, cerebral palsy, mental
retardation and multiple disabilities. The Act gives direction for the care and
protection of persons with these disabilities in the event of death of their
parents, procedures of appointment of guardians and trustees for persons in need of
such protection and to provide need based services in times of crisis to the
families of the disabled.
It was enacted to regulate admissions to psychiatric hospitals psychiatric nursing
homes of mentally ill-persons who do not have sufficient understanding to seek
treatment on a voluntary basis and to protect the rights of such persons while
being detained, to protect society from the presence of mentally ill persons who
have become or might become a danger or nuisance to others, to protect citizens
from being detained in psychiatric hospitals or nursing homes without sufficient
cause, to regulate responsibility for maintenance charges of mentally ill persons
who are admitted in psychiatrist hospitals or nursing homes, to provide facilities
for determining guardianship or custody of mentally ill-persons who are incapable
of managing their own affairs, to provide for the establishment of Central
Authority and State Authorities for mental health services, to regulate the power
of the Govt. for establishing, licensing & controlling psychiatric nursing homes
for mentally persons and to provide for legal aid to mentally ill-persons at state
expense in certain cases.
was passed to regulate the man power development programmes in the field of
education of persons with special needs. The main objectives are to regulate the
training policies and programmes in the field of rehabilitation of people with
disabilities, to standardize training courses for rehabilitation professionals, to
recognize institutions/universities running degree/diploma/certificate courses in
the field of rehabilitation of the disabled and to recognize and equalize foreign
degree/diploma/certificate courses. The RCI Act has amended in 2000 to entrust the
additional responsibility of promoting research in rehabilitation and special
The National Policy on Education 1986 is implemented to achieve the goal of
providing education to all including the disabled. The objective of this policy is
to integrate the physically and mentally handicapped with general community as
equal partners to prepare them for normal growth and to enable them to face life
with courage and confidence.
Says (in brief) that, if personal injury is caused to a workman by accident arising
out of or in the course of his employment, his employer shall be liable to pay
compensation. As per Section 4 of the above Act, where permanent total disablement
results from the injury, an amount equal to 60% of the monthly wages of the injured
workman multiplied by the relevant factor or amount of twenty thousand rupees
whichever is more; where permanent partial disablement results from the injury in
case of an injury mentioned in Part II of Schedule I, such percentage of
compensation which would have been payable in the case of permanent total
disablement, in case of injury not mentioned is Schedule such percentage of the
compensation payable in the case of permanent total disablement as is proportionate
to the loss of earning capacity. In case of temporary disablement whether total or
partial, a half monthly amount payment of the sum equivalent to 25% of monthly
wages of the workman is payable.
Like this, periodical payment shall be made to an insured person suffering from
disablement as a result of an employment injury sustained as an employee under this
Act and certified to be eligible for such payments by an authority specified in
this behalf by the regulations. Section 51 of the same Act states that, Disablement
benefit- a) a person who sustains temporary disablement for not less than three
days (excluding the day of accident) shall be entitled to periodical payment of
such rates and for such periods and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed
by the Central Govt. b) a person who sustains permanent disablement, whether total
or partial, shall be entitled to periodical payment at such rates and for such
periods and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by the Central Govt.
The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 is one of the piece of legislation for the rights
of disabled persons. As per Section 4 of this Act, gratuity shall be payable to an
employee on the termination of his employment on his death or disablement due to
accident or disease, if he has rendered continuous service of five years.
In Javed Abidi v. Union of India,7the Supreme Court taking into consideration the
true spirit and objective for which the Persons with Disabilities(..) Act,1995 was
enacted to create barrier free environment, to make special provisions for the
integration of the persons with disabilities into the social mainstream apart from
the protection of rights, provision of medical care, education, training employment
and rehabilitation which are some of the prime objectives of the Act. The Supreme
Court bearing in mind the discomfort and harassment suffering by a person of
locomotors disability would face while travelling by train particularly to far off
places, issued direction to the Indian Airlines to grant persons suffering from
locomotors disability to the extent of 80%.
In Chandan Kumar Banik v. State of West Bengal,8the Supreme Court has given the
order to provide respite to mentally challenged inmates of a hospital in Hooghly
district who were being kept chained by the hospital authority to control their
unruly and violent behaviour. National Federation of Blind v. Union Public Service
commission,9in this case the Supreme Court held that, the UPSC may be directed to
allow blind person for appearing the examinations for Indian Administrative and
allied services. In Ramchandra Tandi v. the State of Orissa,10 the concerned
authority refused to accord recognition and financial assistance to a school for
the deaf and dumb in order to avoid unnecessary financial burden. The court has
decided the case in favour of disabled persons.
In Govt. of NCT of Delhi v. Bharat Lal Meena,11the Delhi High Court held that
people with disabilities can be appointed as physical education teachers provided
they have passed the qualifying examination and undergone the requisite training.
The Supreme Court in Kunal Singh v. Union of India,12held that Section 47 contains
a socially beneficial provision and must be interpreted liberally so that the
object of the Act, i.e. equal opportunities, protection of rights and full
participation of persons with disabilities is advanced. Uppala Venkat v. Divisional
Railway Manager(P) South Central Railway, Secunderabad and Others,13 in case of
total disability which renders a person unfit for any employment in the
establishment, he has the right of protection under the relevant provision of
Persons with Disabilities(..) Act,1995. under this Act if a person is completely
disabled, he should be provided with alternative employment and if such employment
is not possible, he should be kept in a supernumerary post till he attains the age
of retirement.
According to NSSO 2002, the estimated number of disabled persons in the country
were 1.85 crore, According to Census 2001, there were 2.19 crore disabled persons
in the country.14 One in every 10 children born with or acquires a physical, mental
or sensory disabilities. India is a country where above 70% of the population
living in rural areas and villages. Thus, people living in villages, requiring a
wide range of professionals for providing rehabilitation services.
Rehabilitation Programmes and Support services-
The Govt. of India launched the District Rehabilitation Centre Scheme in the year
1995, to provide comprehensive rehabilitation services to the rural disabled right
at their doorsteps. The scheme, is operational at 11different districts of 10
states.15 The services provided in their scheme includes, prevention and early
detection, medical intervention and surgical correction, fitment of artificial
limbs, therapeutic services, training, job placement etc.
As per the objectives of Rehabilitation Council India Act, the Council initiated
the process of developing training programmes for human resource considering the
needs of the professionals at different levels. 16 types of professionals are
required in different fields. For that, Certificate, Diploma, Degree, Master Degree
courses, training programmes for IAS officers, regular training courses are being
implemented. In our country, 33 universities are directly running the programmes.
The National Institutes, the Regional Centers and other apex institutes are
conducting 90 programmes. The NGO's are offering 136 programmes. There are 3,200
NGOs are working in this field.
The number of qualified professionals in the Central Rehabilitation Register in
2004-05 is 26,363. More than 700,000 professionals will be required to serve
persons with disabilities.16 With the coming in to force of the Persons With
Disabilities(Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act,
1995, there is a statutory responsibility on the Government to ensure that all
disabled children are provided free education in an appropriate environment till
the age of 18 years. A sceme called Integrated Education for Disabled Children
(IEDC) was launched by the Government in 1974 to provide educational opportunities
for disabled children in the general school system, so as to facilitate their
retention and ultimate integration in the system. Under this scheme 100 percent
financial assistance is supposed to be provided for the education of disabled
children which includes, assistance towards books and stationery uniforms,
transport allowances, readers allowance for blind children particularly those with
lower extremity disability, boarding and lodging charges for disabled children
residing in hostels.
The IEDC scheme is being implemented in most of the States and Union Territories.
the IEDC scheme has proposed an outlay of Rs. 1,000/- crore for the 11th Five Year
Plan which is five time more than the 10th Five Year Plan allocation. To impart
education, there are about 400 special schools for hearing impaired, and 300
schools for visual impairment and about 1500 schools for persons with mental
retardation. Most of the schools are managed by NGO and only a few by the Govt.
School attendance amongst the children with various types of disabilities range
from a high of 56.4 percent (locomotor) to low of 13 percent (mental retardation).
Enrollment of children with other disabilities varies with the type of
disabilities- 50 percent (hearing disability), 49 percent (low vision), 36.5
percent (speech disability), 22.6 percent (blindness) and 13 percent (mental
Perhaps it is beyond debate and doubt that there is a tremendous need for
decentralization of rehabilitation services to the district levels. Only local
communities know their potential and without their co-operation no rehabilitation
program can sustain. There is a wealth of wisdom and experience in the rural areas
and it is necessary to build rehabilitation on the basis potential of families and
the community. However there is a need of networks and linkages for dissemination
of knowledge, skills, man power development strategies, technology from global
level to village level communities.
In keeping with India's philosophy of `Vasudhaiv Kutumbakamb' which literally means
`the world is one family, so all the family members deserve equal care and equal
treatment. Members who are physically weak, defective should not be neglected and
should not be treated differently. The dreams and aspirations of disabled persons
should align with the `Millennium Development Goals' and this possible when
decentralization of rehabilitation planning and implementation starts happening.
Thus, we should come together and extend our support and co-operation to create a
world, a world without stairs, prejudice, discrimination, and stigma where Braille
and sign language become as a common medium as written and spoken words with
another medium of expression that is through heart. A world where disabled have
easy access to public places and utilities, can participate in cultural activities,
political process and are capable to enjoy their lives in a meaningful way is the
idle we should strive for.
1. http:// www.infochangeindia.org/disabilities.jsp
2. A.N. Sen, Human Rights, 1st Edn. 2002, Sri Sai Law Publication
3. Black Law Dictionary, 7th Edn. 1999, West Group, St. Paul Minn
4. International Conference on Human Resource Development in the Area of Disability
Rehabilitation. 25th and 26th April 2005. Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment
Government of India and Rehabilitation Council of India. Kanishka Publishers,
Distributors. p. 249
5. Ibid, p. 283
6. Asha Bajpayee, Child Rights in India, 1st Edn. 2003, Oxford University Press, p.
7. (1999) 1 SCC 467
8. (1995) Supp(4) SCC 505
9. AIR1993 SC1916
10. AIR 1994 Orissa228
11. (2002) 100 DLT 157
12. JT 2003(2) SC 132
13. 2003(5) ALD 263
14. International Conference on Human Resource Development in the Area of
Disability Rehabilitation. 25th & 26th April 2005. Ministry of Social Justice &
Empowerment Government of India and Rehabilitation Council of India.Kanishka
Publishers,Distribitors. p.235
15. Ibid, p. 289
16. Ibid, p. 31
17. Ibid, p. 2O3

Disability and Education:

The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full
Participation) Act, 1995 came into force on February 7, 1996. This law is an
important landmark and is a significant step in the direction of ensuring equal
opportunities for people with disabilities and their full participation in the
nation building.

Basic Primer on the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of

Rights And Full Participation) Act, 1995:
As observed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in Kunal Singh v. Union of
India[2], the need for a comprehensive legislation for safeguarding the rights of
persons with disabilities, for enabling them to enjoy equal opportunities and to
help them to fully participate in national life was felt for a long time, and the
Act provides some sort of succor to the disabled persons.

Right To Employment of Disables:

Human rights are the fundamental or basic rights, which should not be taken away by
any individual or government. They comprise within its gamut the right to life and
liberty, equality, right to freedom of speech and expression and movement, trade,
profession or business freedom of movement, thought, conscience and religion, right
to work, right to education etc.