In order to understand the concept relating to the Rights of the disabled, we
must first have a clear view of the term Disability and the aspects it
Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations,
and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or
structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual
in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem
experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations. Disability is
thus not just a health problem. It is a complex phenomenon, reflecting the
interaction between features of a person's body and features of the society in
which he or she lives. Disability is a contested concept, with different meanings
for different communities. It may be used to refer to physical or mental
attributes that some institutions, particularly medicine, view as needing to be
fixed. It may refer to limitations imposed on people by the constraints of an
"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ableism" \o "Ableism" albeit society.
Or the term may serve to refer to the identity of people with disabilities. It
can be said that it is an impairment that may be cognitive, developmental,
intellectual, mental, physical, sensory, or some combination of these. It
substantially affects a person's life activities and may be present from birth
or occur during a person's lifetime.
Legal Rights of The Disabled In India:
The Constitution of India applies uniformly to every legal citizen of India,
whether they are healthy or disabled in any way (physically or mentally). The
Constitution of India secures to the citizens including the disabled, a right of
justice, liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, equality of
status and of opportunity and for the promotion of fraternity. The right to
Education is available to all citizens including the disabled. The Constitution
directs the State to provide free and compulsory education for all children
until they attain the age of 14 years. The health laws of India have many
provisions for the disabled. Some of the acts which make provision for the
health of the citizens including the disabled may be seen in the Mental Act,
1987. Various laws relating to the marriage enacted by the Government for
different communities apply equally to the disabled. There are certain
circumstances that will disable a person from undertaking a marriage. They are:
When the either party is a lunatic;
When the parties are unable to give a valid consent because of the unsound mind;
When the parties are within the degree of prohibited relationship.
Under the Succession Act, 1956 which applies to Hindus it has been specifically
provided that physical disability or physical deformity would not remove a
person from inheriting ancestral property. The rights of the disabled have not
been spelt out so well in the labour legislations but provisions which cater to
the disabled in their relationship with the employer are contained in delegated
legislations such as rules, regulations and standing orders.
Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons:
The Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons was a declaration which was
formed by the "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_General_Assembly"
\o "United Nations General Assembly" General Assembly of the
"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations" \o "United Nations" United
Nations, which was established on 9 December 1975.Prior to 1970 the UN
approached disability issues from a social welfare perspective. The attention
paid to obstacles created by social institutions and society was little in
general. On December 11, 1969, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on
Social Progress and Development, which in Article 19 advocates the provision of
free health services and the institution of measures to provide
security and social welfare services for all persons. Those services include
measures to rehabilitate the mentally and physically disabled to
"https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/facilitate" facilitate their
into society. Provisions for education, "https://www.britannica.com/topic/employee-training"
job training and placement, and vocational and social guidance are also
included. On December 20, 1971, the General Assembly proclaimed the Declaration
on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons, which seeks to provide proper
medical care and education, economic security, and protection from exploitation,
among other rights for mentally retarded people. The 1969 and 1971 declarations
led to the creation of the Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons, which,
in a sense, represents an attempt to "https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/delineate"
delineate that the UN’s 1948 "https://www.britannica.com/topic/Universal-Declaration-of-Human-Rights"
Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly applies to persons with
Provisions of the declaration include:-
The definition of “disabled person” as anyone who cannot obtain the necessities
of a normal individual or social life and as a result of any deficiency in
physical or mental capabilities.
A nondiscrimination clause applying the rights to all disabled persons
regardless of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other
opinions, national or social origin, state of wealth, birth,
A statement regarding disabled persons right to respect for their human
Further provisions spell out specific rights and the measures that would enable
them to be exercised: civil and political rights; the right to measures to
enable self-reliance; the right to medical, psychological, and rehabilitative
treatment; the right to economic and social security, to a decent
"https://www.britannica.com/topic/standard-of-living" standard of living etc.
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:-
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an
"International human rights instrument" international human rights
"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multilateral_treaty" \o "Multilateral treaty"
treaty of the "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations" \o
"United Nations" United Nations intended to protect the rights and dignity
persons with "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disability" \o
"Disability" disabilities. This Convention was adopted by the
"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_General_Assembly" \o "United
Nations General Assembly" United Nations General Assembly on 13 December 2006,
and opened for signature on 30 March 2007. Parties to the Convention are
required to promote, protect, and ensure the full enjoyment of
"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights" \o "Human rights" human rights by
persons with disabilities and ensure that they enjoy full "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equality_under_the_law"
\o "Equality under the law" equality under the law. The Convention has served as
the major catalyst in the global movement from viewing persons with disabilities
as objects of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing
them as full and equal members of society, with human rights. It is also the
only UN human rights instrument with an explicit "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_development"
\o "Sustainable development" sustainable development dimension. The Convention
was the first human rights treaty of the third millennium.
The Convention follows the civil law with a preamble in which the principle
which says that "all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and
interrelated" which is followed by 50 articles. Unlike many UN covenants and
conventions, it is not formally divided into parts.
The preamble includes the following among others –
Recalling the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations which
recognize the inherent dignity and worth and the equal and inalienable rights of
all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace
in the world.
Recognizing that the United Nations, in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and in the International Covenants on Human Rights, has proclaimed and
agreed that everyone should obey all the rights and freedoms without
distinction of any kind.
Recognizing that disability is an evolving concept and that disability results
from the interaction between persons with impairments and environmental barriers
that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis
Article 1 defines the purpose of the Convention: to promote, protect and ensure
the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of all
persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.
Articles 2 and 3 provide definitions and general principles including
Articles 4–32 define the rights of persons with disabilities and the obligations
of states parties towards them. Articles 33–39 govern reporting and monitoring
of the convention by "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_human_rights_institutions"
\o "National human rights institutions" national human rights institutions.
Articles 40–50 govern ratification, entry into force, and amendment of the
Convention. Article 49 also requires that the Convention which is to be
available in accessible formats.
\o "Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities" Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities is a side-agreement to the Convention which allows its parties to
recognize the competence of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities to take and consider complaints from individuals.
The present general comment reflects an interpretation of Article 12 which is
premised on the general principles of the Convention, namely, respect for the
inherent dignity, individual autonomy — including the freedom to make one’s own
choices , and independence of persons; non-discrimination; full and effective
participation and inclusion in society; respect for difference and acceptance of
persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity; equality of
opportunity; accessibility; equality between men and women; and respect for the
evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of
children with disabilities to preserve their identities.
The Constitution of India has guaranteed full protection to the rights of
disabled people. The Preamble of the Constitution contains the concept of social
justice and equality of status and opportunity to all the people of India.
Article 14 & 16 of the Constitution which guarantee equality of opportunity to
all citizen of India. Article 38 of the Constitution which subsides within
Directive Principles of State Policy, requires the State to promote the welfare
of the people by securing a social order in which social, economic and political
justice can inform to all institutions of national life and the State is
required to make efforts to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and
opportunities amongst individuals.
Enactments In India:
Persons with disabilities (PWD) (equal opportunities, protection of rights and
full participation) Act, 1995:
The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and
Full Participation) Act, 1995” had come into enforcement on February 7, 1996. It
is an important step which ensures equal opportunities for the people with
disabilities and their full participation in the nation building. The Act
provides for both the preventive and promotional aspects of rehabilitation like
education, employment and vocational training, reservation, research and
manpower development, creation of barrier- free environment, rehabilitation of
persons with disability, unemployment allowance for the disabled, special
insurance scheme for the disabled employees and establishment of homes for
persons with severe disability etc.
Main Provisions of the Act:-
Prevention and Early Detection of Disabilities
Research and Manpower Development
The Mental Health Act, 1987
The Mental Health Act,1987 was enacted to regulate admissions to psychiatric
hospitals and psychiatric nursing homes of mentally ill-persons who do not have
sufficient understanding to seek treatment on a voluntary basis and to protect
the rights of such persons while being detained, to protect society from the
presence of mentally ill persons who have become or might become a danger or
nuisance to others among other provisions.
The Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992
It was passed to regulate the man power development programmes in the field of
education of persons with special needs. The main objectives are to regulate the
training policies and programmes in the field of rehabilitation of people with
disabilities, to standardize training courses for rehabilitation professionals
and also for ensuring the establishment of rehabilitation centres.
The Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923
If any injury or accident is caused to the workman in the course of work or
employment then his employer has to pay compensation. As per Section 4 of the
above Act, where permanent total disablement results from the injury, an amount
equal to 60% of the monthly wages of the injured workman multiplied by the
relevant factor or amount of twenty thousand rupees whichever is more.
Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948
Periodical payment shall be made to an insured person suffering from disablement
as a result of an employment injury sustained as an employee under this Act and
certified to be eligible for such payments by an authority specified in this
behalf by the regulations. In India, the disabled citizens have the same rights
as other citizens to a descent standard of living and economic security, right
to work, education, employment and also right to access and communication.
Decided cases in India:
In Javed Abidi v. Union of India - The Supreme Court bearing in mind the
discomfort and harassment suffering by a person of locomotors disability would
face while travelling by train particularly to far off places, issued direction
to the Indian Airlines to grant persons suffering from locomotors disability to
the extent of 80%.
In Chandan Kumar Banik v. State of West Bengal - The Supreme Court has given the
order to provide respite to mentally challenged inmates of a hospital in Hooghly
district who were being kept chained by the hospital authority to control their
unruly and violent behavior.
In National Federation of Blind v. Union Public Service commission - The Supreme
Court held that, the UPSC may be directed to allow blind person for appearing
the examinations for Indian Administrative and allied services.
In Govt. of NCT of Delhi v. Bharat Lal Meena - The Delhi High Court held that
people with disabilities can be appointed as physical education teachers
provided they have passed the qualifying examination and undergone the requisite
In Uppala Venkat v. Divisional Railway Manager(P) South Central Railway,
Secunderabad and Others - In case of total disability which renders a person
unfit for any employment in the establishment, he has the right of protection
under the relevant provision of Persons with Disabilities Act,1995. Under this
Act if a person is completely disabled, he should be provided with alternative
employment and if such employment is not possible, he should be kept in a
supernumerary post till he attains the age of retirement.
Policies in India:
National Policy For Persons with Disabilities, 2006
The Government of India formulated the National Policy for Persons with
Disabilities in February 2006 which deals with Physical, Educational and
Economic Rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. In addition, the policy
also focuses upon rehabilitation of women and children with disabilities,
barrier free environment, social security, research.
The National Policy recognizes that Persons with Disabilities are valuable human
resource for the country and seeks to create an environment that provides them
equal opportunities, protection of their rights and participation of the society
Some of the aspects which the Policy focuses on are:-
Prevention of Disabilities - Since disability, in a large number of
cases, is preventable, the policy lays a strong emphasis on prevention of
disabilities. It calls for programme for prevention and cure of the diseases
which result in disability and the creation of awareness regarding measures to
be taken for prevention of disabilities during the period of pregnancy and
thereafter to be intensified and their coverage expanded.
Rehabilitation Measures - Rehabilitation measures can be classified into
three distinct groups:
Physical rehabilitation, which includes early detection and intervention,
counseling & medical interventions and provision of aids and appliances. It
also include the development of rehabilitation professionals.
Educational rehabilitation including vocational education and
Economic rehabilitation for a dignified life in society.
Women with disabilities - Women with disabilities require protection
against exploitation and abuse. Special programmes will be developed for
education, employment and providing of other rehabilitation services to women
with disabilities keeping in view their special needs. Special educational and
vocation training facilities will be setup. Programmes will be undertaken to
rehabilitate abandoned disabled women, girls by encouraging their adoption in
families, support to house them and impart them training for gainful employment
skills. The Government will encourage the projects where representation of women
with disabilities is ensured at least to the extent of twenty five percent of
Children with Disabilities - Children with disabilities are the most
vulnerable group and need special attention. The Government would strive to: -
Ensure right to care, protection and security for children with disabilities;
Ensure the right to development with dignity and equality creating an enabling
environment where children can exercise their rights, enjoy equal opportunities
and full participation in accordance with various statutes.
Ensure inclusion and effective access to education, health, vocational training
along with specialized rehabilitation services to children with disabilities.
Ensure the right to development as well as recognition of special needs, care
and protection of children with severe disabilities.
Disability refers to the disadvantage or restriction of activity caused by the
way society is organized which takes little or no account of people who have
physical, sensory or mental impairments. As a result such people are excluded
and prevented from participating effectively on equal terms in mainstream
society. Disability is an unfortunate part of human life which can effect not
only the natural way of living but also despair component strength and power.
Persons with disability are most disadvantaged section of society, they are also
neglected in their family.
With the various provisions that seek to provide Rights for the disabled, both
at the international level and at the national level, the future of such
disabled persons is bound to improve and various regulations are also taken.
However, It is clear that the position of the disabled section will not improve
unless there is an active participation among government, non-governmental
organization and other members of the society. The government has done a
commendable job in driving its attention towards the education and employment of
the disabled section. Several schemes and benefits conferred on the disabled
persons has come up as a relief and has successfully served to provide equal
opportunities to the disabled sections of the people. The government needs to
launch more social security schemes for disabled sections and generate more
employment opportunities for them.