Last month, the Centre issued notification proposing decriminalisation of minor offences under Disabilities Act 2016

The proposal is being justified by the DEPwD on the grounds that it would “improve business sentiment and unclog court processes” and enable better implementation of the law

Image Source: Shutterstock

Currently, it is in the public domain for suggestions from the stakeholders and public

The amendment aims to mellow the penalty under Sections 89, 92 (a) and 93 of the RPwD Act by making certain offenses compoundable

The move has spurred protests by the community of people with disabilities, disability rights activists and organisations

Disability rights activists and organisations argue that people With disabilities face multiple layers of discrimination...

...and that the provisions proposed are instead to deter punitive action for offences against people with disabilities

One of the sections under review of the Act has a provision for imprisonment for ‘intentionally insulting or intimidating a person with disability with intent to humiliate in public view’

Under the new proposal, this provision is to be taken out

Disability rights activists also emphasised that the Act and these Sections defends the rights of the disabled, and softening the penalties would make public and work spaces unsafe for them

“Penal provisions of this Act are meant to be as effective as those made for SC/ST persons. As the SC/ST Act is strict, it acts as a huge deterrent for offences being committed. The RPwD Act was meant to do the same for us...."

Image Source: feminisminindia

...By removing penal provision, the government is not only diluting the Act but also going against commitments it made internationally and to the UN.” Satendra Singh, Delhi-based disability rights activist told Media