The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016: Salient Features

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The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, which replaces the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, was brought into effect on 19 April 2017. It fulfills the obligations to the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory.

The Rights of Persons with Disability Rules, 2017 (Rules) were notified on 15 June 2017 to supplement the provisions of the Act.

Salient Features
  • In the RPWD Act, 2016, the list has been expanded from 7 to 21 conditions, and it now also includes cerebral palsy, dwarfism, muscular dystrophy, acid attack victims, hard of hearing, speech and language disability, specific learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, chronic neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, blood disorders such as hemophilia, thalassemia, and sickle cell anemia, and multiple disabilities.

  • Persons with "benchmark disabilities" are defined as those certified to have at least 40 percent of the disabilities specified above.

  • The Act provides for the grant of guardianship by the District Court under which there will be a joint decision–making between the guardian and the persons with disabilities.

  • Reservation in vacancies in government establishments has been increased from 3% to 4% for certain persons or classes of persons with benchmark disability.

  • Every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education.

  • The Act provides for penalties for offenses committed against persons with disabilities and also violations of the provisions of the new law.

  • Any person who violates provisions of the Act, or any rule or regulation made under it, shall be punishable with imprisonment up to six months and/ or a fine of Rs 10,000, or both. For any subsequent violation, imprisonment of up to two years and/or a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs five lakh can be awarded.

  • Whoever intentionally insults or intimidates a person with a disability, or sexually exploits a woman or child with a disability, shall be punishable with imprisonment between six months to five years and a fine.

  • Special Courts will be designated in each district to handle cases concerning violation of rights of PwDs.

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