Disability rights groups strongly oppose Centre proposal to amend RPWD Act
Over 120 disability rights activists and organisations across India have released joint statement strongly resisting the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment’s move to dilute key provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act. This week, the MSJE sent a letter to seven NGOs asking for their feedback to a proposal to alter provisions of the Act relating to penal provisions.
A strong statement signed by 125 disability rights activists and NGOs from across India strongly opposing the Department of Empowerment of People with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) proposal to alter penal provisions laid down under Sections 89, 92 and 93 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act 2016.
Earlier this week the MSJE sent a letter to seven NGOs seeking their feedback to reducing the penal provisions. The letter also gave these organisations until 10 July to respond.
Changes will alter spirit of the Act
In a joint statement, civil society organisations and activists have registered an ‘unequivocal and strong’ protest. They say the changes suggested will dilute and nullify penal provisions contained in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
Under the plea of decriminalising “minor offences” the government is proposing to drastically alter the very nature of the RPD Act. And the government has unabashedly stated that such provisions “act as deterrents and this is perceived as one of the major reasons impacting investments from both domestic and foreign investors”. Every investor foreign or Indian has to comply with the law of the land where they are setting up businesses and legislations are not amended to suit their interests. – Joint statement by disability rights groups
The statement says that the proposed changes will remove whatever little teeth the Act contains to ensure compliance.
The changes proposed are seen as part of a larger pattern by the groups.
“As per information available, proposals have already been mooted for amending 19 laws including the Insurance Act, 1938, PFRDA Act, 2013, RBI Act, 1934, Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, NABARD Act, 1981 Banking Regulation Act, 1949, LIC Act, 1956, Schemes Act, 2019, etc., on similar lines to “decriminalise” various offences. Many more are in the anvil. This is part and parcel of the larger agenda that the central government is pursuing in its renewed thrust for opening up the economy to unbridled loot by foreign and domestic capital utilising the pandemic situation”.
The changes, activists allege, are to enable ease of doing business but this cannot come at the cost of people’s interests.
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