Friday, July 17, 2009

You might be tried under Criminal Law if you call a disabled person on his disability!

Dear Friends,
This seems to be a path breaking development and Shri D N Chowdry deserves accolades. In order to ensure dignity and respect as equal citizens of this country to the persons with disabilities, Maharashtra State Legal Commission has submitted a report recommending that insulting a person with disability for his disability should be considered as a Crime under Criminal Law and be punishable.
An overall welcome move
This is a welcome move as even today people with disabilities are discriminated against; called by their disability not by their name, especially in rural and underdeveloped areas and not given their due rights which the Indian Constitution guarantees them.
Such recommendations if enacted as an enforceable law can change the ground situations entirely. Any such law is actually a great level player for marginalised segments and gives them a ready tool to enforce their equality and rights on society if the society lags behind in accepting them as equal partners deserving equal dignity and respect. This is on the lines of The Scheduled Castes and The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 that was enacted to instill a confidence and to stop and prevent atrocities against dalits. Proponent of Dalit Rights term this Act as an important milestone in their fight for equal rights in independent India.
Why not insert such provisions in the Persons with Disabilities Act?
I also feel, we Indians are so proud to enact a number of laws and then carrying them on our back without any implementation mechanism. The existing central law like The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation), 1995 are yet to be implemented in full letter and spirit. This law doesn't have prevention of atrocities as a separate section but is well covered under non-discrimination clauses, however, without invoking any criminal procedure for failure to implement or for discriminating. Thus if such a clause is added to this Act, the Act can actually become very strong.
Cautious lest the law is abused!
However, such a law in favour of disabled people should be taken up with a caution! We have seen in the recent past that the SC/ST Act has been largely misused against other members of society to settle personal scores and with vested interests and even used in political circles. Recently, the State Congress Chief of UP was got arrested using the provisions of SC/ST Act by Ms. Mayavati, the Chief Minister of UP!! Thus sufficient provisions need to be made so that the law is not misused.
Implement existing laws and UNCRPD
There is an urgent need to see that the existing laws and especially the UNCRPD (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) that has acquired for force of domestic law after its acceptance and ratification by India, are implemented in true letter and spirit and a strict and time bound mechanism is ensured to see that the rule book prevails to achieve the mandate of these socially equalising enactments.
Warm regards
Subhash Chandra Vashishth
Insult on physical disability could be considered as punishable offence
Correspondent Thursday, July 16th, 2009 AT 10:07 PM
MUMBAI: Insulting a physically challenged person on his disability might soon be considered as an offence which would be punishable. A report submitted by the Maharashtra State Legal Commission to chief minister Ashok Chavan on Thursday emphasised that “insult on physical disability should be considered as an offence.”

The 21st report submitted by D N Chowdry, chairman of the Commission, recommended that insult on physical disability should be considered as an offence and there should be a provision of punishment.

The State government in April 2009 had asked the Commission to make recommendations regarding handicapped act and accordingly a 26-page report was submitted. Chowdry in the report recommends that calling a handicapped person on physical disability, speaking to them with disrespect, insulting on physical disability or abusing on disability as an offence and there should be a provision of punishment,.

Chowdry further said, “It was necessary to recommend that a handicapped person should be treated respectfully in the society. There is no such provision in the prevailing Central Act.”

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