Letter dated 16 December 2008 to Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability says "persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical and 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."

The Persons With Disabilities Act 2005, India limits "disability" in the following categories of (i) Blindness; (ii) Low vision; (iii) Leprosy-cured; (iv) Hearing impaired; (v) Locomotor disability; (vi) Mental Retardation; and (vii) Mental illness

Question 1. Since India's PWD Act does ot consider Autism, Cerebral Palsy a disability, is it not breach of thi UN Convention which has been ratified by us?

Question 2. What plans does the Government have for speedy removal of this anomaly, and in what time frame?
 Response No.32-79/2008-DD.III, dated 12 January 2009

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has given the broad definition "disability is an evolving concept and that disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others" which does not mention any particular disability.

However, cerebral palsy is covered under the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, while autism is covered under National rust Act, 1999.
 Article 33 of the UN Convention says (1) one or more focal points within government shall be established for implementation of the Convention consideration of establishment or designation of a coordination mechanism within government. (2) A frame-work including one or more independent mechanisms to promote,protect and monitor implementation of the present Convention which would take shape of an independent National Institution for protecting Human Rights of the disabled. (3) Civil society, persons with disabilities will be involved. (http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?navid=16&pid=157)

Question 3. What iniiative hav been taken in setting-up such a monitoring mechanism in compliance to the UN Convention?

Question 4. If established, what is the date of establishment of this body?

Question 5. Who are its members?

Question 6. What functions have been assigned/are proposed to be assigned to this body?

Question 7. If such a body is not established yet, what is the plan regarding this?

Question 8. When is the next meeting to discuss the setting-up of this body scheduled?

Question 9. Which members from the civil society are identified to participate in this?
 All the Ministries/Departments of the Central Government, including attached and subordinate offices and autonomous organizations have been advised that their offices under their administrative control, should ensure expeditious implementation of the provisions of the Convention in so far as it concerns them including through appropriate laws, rules and orders etc.

All State Governments and UT Administrations have also been requested to bring the provisions of the Convention and the resultant obligations to the notice of all concerned, especially Government Departments, District Collectors and Local Bodies, for suitable action. It has been requested that NGOs and the civil society, in general should be amounted in the effort to empower pwrsons with disabilities.

The Ministry is monitoring the progress and implementation of the United Nation Convention on Rights for Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
With regard to your mail dated 19 Nov 2008, which states that "the proposal for amendment Persons With Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995, is already under consideration o the Ministry".
 We would be grateful if you could also provide us the following clarifications, since your statements are contrary to the letter dated 8 December 2008 (F.No.16-117/2003-DD.III) from Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment which states "A considered view has been taken that the list of disabilities considered under the PWD Act, 1995 should not be expanded as doing so would shift attention and resources away from those whose needs is the greatest"

Question 10. On what basis do you compare disabilities to decide which disability has greater need?