The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016

Disabilities Act 2016 Analysis: An attempt to transform 80 million Indian’s lives

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Did you know, one in 12 families has a person with Disabilities!?


Once in our life, we all have been influenced by great works of Stephen Hawking, S Jaipal Reddy (once India’s Union Minister), Ravindra Jain, a revered  Bollywood music artist, actor Abhishek Bachchan, Hellen Keller, John Nash (schizophrenic Nobel prize winner economist). You know, what’s common amongst them all, they had some kind of disability. But their disabilities don’t define them, they aren’t disabled people, but people with disabilities(narrative matters). They just need special care for nourishment and unleash their full potential. According to the World Bank, 1 billion people in the World and about 40 to 80 million Indian’s have some kind of disabilities, and as human beings, they have the right to every opportunity as others. But the question is – how accessible is the Indian environment for such people to live, learn, and grow?

World Report on Disability 2011, professor Stephen Hawking stated:

Disability need not be an obstacle to success. Governments throughout the world can no longer overlook the hundreds of millions of people with disabilities who are denied access to health, rehabilitation, support, education, and employment, and never get the chance to shine.

The Disabilities Act 2016 is a step towards recognizing their rights, and provisions for providing them an accessible environment and care. Earlier, the PWD Act 1995 governed the Indians with disabilities, and the 2016 Act improves it substantially. It completely replaces the 1995 Act. This updated Act intends to align its provisions with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Disability is an umbrella term, and still evolving in human understanding. WHO says “Disability is complex, dynamic, multi-dimensional, and contested”. Under Indian law, a person with a disability means a person with long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which, in interaction with barriers, hinders his full and effective participation in society equally with others.

Highlights Of The Act:

  • Now 14 move disabilities have been added, total rounding to 21.
  • Free education to children in the age group of 6-18.
  • A person with a disability of 40% or above will be recognized under this law.
  • 3 – 4% reservation for people with disabilities in government jobs.
  • To make public establishments disability-friendly.
  • As the concept of disability is evolving, any new disability can be recognized by a notification.
  • Emphasis on the people with disabilities’ rights of equality, opportunity, owning property and home, and reproduction rights.
All the disabilities recognized under this law.

Issues The Law Fails To Fix :

  •  Poor implementation strategy: No budget or financial resources to meet the obligations
  • Any mechanism for resolving complaints is absent.
  • It makes education free for PWD but fails to mandate schools to have facilities for their education.
  • It does not include public establishments in its attempt to make the environment friendly for PWD.
  • Vague information may lead to acts of omission to be interpreted as crimes.


No doubt the Act does good work in recognizing the problems and rights of PWD, but it fails to meet the most important provisions, that is, implementation. The Government aimed to make 50% of the buildings friendly for PWD till 2018, but only 3% of them have been made accessible, according to the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD). Therefore the deadline has been increased to 2020. The SeenAb APP has created a community engagement platform with an emergency button, which helps the police, local hospitals, and clinics, and community workers (for example, guards) to respond fast to the needs of the disabled person. The Government needs to provide for encouraging policies for the start-ups working to take care of PWD. The law is a ray of hope for people with disabilities, though it is still a long way for a disability-friendly environment.

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