The American Psychiatric Association defines insanity as a psychological
pattern or syndrome marked by distress and disability.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
People with disabilities all over the world experience human rights violations,
stigma and discrimination. To have a disability means that one has fundamental
difficulty accomplishing things that others take for granted. Disabilities can
be physical in nature, cognitive, behavioral, or even emotional. This particular
disabilities topic center contains mostly reference to physical and sensory
forms of disability, as other forms are adequately covered in other topic
centers. Physical and sensory disabilities can be major impediments to
participating in normal society. Disabilities can take a severe psychological
toll. To be disabled means to have lost a range of functioning in the first
place. It can also easily mean being more isolated from others than one would
like to be. There are many social factors that can affect whether or not
individuals with disabilities are included or excluded from participation on
various activities, which in tur can affect development or self-esteem.
Disability is thus just not 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.
Meaning of Disability:
Disability is an impairment that may be cognitive,
development, intellectual, activity, limitations, 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. Disability is a contested
concept, with different meanings of 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 ablest society.
The discussion over disability definition arose out of disability activism
in the U.S and U.K in the 1970s, which challenged how the medical concept of
disability dominated perception and discourse about disabilities. Debates about
proper terminology and their implied politics continue in disability communities
and the academic field of disability studies.
Rights of Disabled:
The declaration on the rights of disabled persons was a declaration
of the general assembly of the United Nations, made on 9 December 1975.It is the
3447th resolution made by the Assembly. As a resolution of the Assembly, it is
not binding on member nations, but it forms a framework that may be drawn on for
the purposes of international and domestic law. It consists of a lengthy
preamble, and thirteen proclamations that broadly promote the rights of
disabilities. For the improvement of conditions of disabled persons, the General
Assembly has adopted declarations and a convention.
The declaration on the rights of mentally retarded persons:
It was adopted by the general assembly on 20 December 1971.Declaration
provides a frame work within which national and International actions should be
imitated for the advancement of rights set forth in the declaration. The
mentally retarded person has to be maximum degrees of feasibility the same
rights as other human beings. The mentally retarded person has a right to proper
medical care and physical therapy and to such education, training,
rehabilitation and guidance as will enable him to develop his ability and
maximum potential. The mentally retarded person whenever possible should live
with his own family or with foster parents. The mentally retarded person has a
right to qualified guardian when this is required to protect his personal
well-being and interests. The mentally retarded person has a right to protection
from exploitation, abuse and degrading treatment. If prosecuted for any offence,
he shall have a right to due process of law with full recognition being given to
his degree of mental responsibility.
The declaration on the rights of disabled persons:
This declaration was adopted by the General Assembly on 9 December
1975. The disabled person shall enjoy all rights contained in this declaration
without distinction or discrimination. The disabled persons have inherent rights
to respect for their human dignity and irrespective of the origin, nature and
seriousness of their handicaps and disabilities, have same Fundamental Rights.
Disabled persons have the same civil and political rights as other human beings.
Disabled persons are entitled to the measures designed to enable them to become
as self-reliant as possible. Disabled persons have the right to economic and
social security, including the right, according to their capabilities, to secure
and retain employment or to engage in a useful, productive and remunerative
occupation and to join trade unions. Disabled persons have the right to live
with their families or with foster parents and to participate in all social,
creative or recreational activities. Disabled persons shall be protected against
all exploitation and treatment of a discriminatory, abusive or degrading nature.
The convention on the rights of persons with disabilities:
In the charter of the United Nations it is proclaimed that the
inherent dignity and worth and the equal and inalienable rights of all members
of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the
world. Similarly, the United Nations, in the universal declaration of human
rights and in the International covenants on Economic, Social and cultural
rights. It is supposed that the convention would make a significant contribution
to redressing the profound social disadvantage of persons with disabilities and
promote their participation in the civil, political, economic, and social and
cultural spheres with equal opportunities, in both developing and developed
countries. The convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities deals with
matters such as, general principles on the basis of which the rights of the
disabled persons are to be promoted and protected, the obligations that have
been undertaken by the State parties to adopt measures. The protocol has been
added to the present convention authorizing the Committee on the Peron with
Disabilities to receive and consider communications from or on behalf of
individuals or groups of individuals, who claim to be victims of a violation by
a State party of the provisions of the present convention.
Human Rights of Persons With Disabilities:
Person with disabilities face discrimination and barriers that
restrict them from participating in society on an equal basis with others every
day. They are denied their rights to be included in the general school system,
to be employed, to live independently in the community, to move freely, to vote,
to participate in sport and cultural activities, to enjoy social protection, to
access justice, to choose medical treatment and to enter freely into legal
commitments such as buying and selling property.
The protection guaranteed in other human rights treaties, and grounded
in the Universal Declaration of Human rights, should apply to all. Persons with
disabilities have, however, remained largely ‘invisible’, often side-lined in
the rights debate and unable to enjoy full range of human rights.
Legal Rights of Persons With Disabilities:
The legal rights of people with disabilities are guaranteed in a
variety of federal and state laws. State laws sometimes provide more protection
over these rights and their federal counterparts. These civil rights laws are
usually found in statutes, regulations, and court decisions (also known as case
law). The statues are passed by Congress or state legislatures, and the details
of the enforcement of those statues are usually contained in regulations drafted
by the agency assigned to make sure people follow the law. When there are
disputes over these rights, the decisions of the courts that decide these
disputes provide further information about the meaning of these laws.
Rights Of Disabled Person In India:
Persons with disabilities are one of the most neglected sections of our
nation. This is due to the sheer indifference of the society which subjects such
people to disapproval and antipathy. Such people have several rights under
various Indian laws as well as UN conventions that are followed in India. Under
section 2(i) of Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995,"disability" includes
blindness, low vision, leprosy cured, hearing impairment, locomotor disability,
mental retardation and mental illness.
Disability Certificate: It is the most basic document that a disabled person
should possess in order to avail certain benefits and concessions. The State
Medical Boards established under the State governments can issue a disability
certificate to any person with more than 40% disability.
Disability Pension: People who are above 18 years of age, suffering with more
than 80% disability and are living below the poverty line are entitled to the
disability pension under the Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme.
Various NGOs are dedicated to this because i.e. they help such persons with
disabilities to get their disability pension.
Employment: In government jobs, 3% of the seats are reserved for persons with
Income Tax Concession: Under sections 80DD and 80U of Income Tax Act, 1961,
persons with disabilities are also entitled to certain income tax concessions.
Also, there are various other rights to which persons with disabilities
are entitled. These are provided under The Mental Health Act, 1987, The
Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992 and The National Trust for Welfare of
persons with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and multiple
disabilities Act, 1999.The Rights of persons with disabilities bill, 2014, which
is an enhancement of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, is still pending
in the Rajya Sabha. Moreover, the Central government plans to start a scheme
under which every disabled person will be provided with a unique identity card
which will be valid throughout India and not just in the respective states.
Hence there are numerous rights which the persons with disabilities can avail.
There are multiple NGOs working for this cause. The need of the hour is to
sensitize the society regarding such people and to enlighten the disabled about
their rights so that they can live their lives with dignity.
In the case of Chanda Kumar v State of West Bengal, the judiciary
condemned the mismanagement of mental asylums by state governments. In the
mental hospital of mankind in holy district West Bengal, the patients were kept
chained with iron ropes and were physically tortured and denied food and water.
The Supreme Court ordered the cessation of this inhuman practice, held the state
liable and recommended reforms of mental health asylums all over the country. In
Legal Aid Committee v State of MP the Supreme Court highlighted the need to have
stricter enforcement of laws made for the betterment of mentally ill. If any
government servant now complies with the behavior necessary for the betterment
of mentally ill, he will be held liable.
In Cleveland v. Policy Management Systems Corp. (1999) The Supreme Court agrees
with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) position that a plaintiff
can go forward with his or her Americans with Disabilities Act case despite
having filed an earlier claim for disability under the Social Security Act
alleging he or she is unable to work. In Raytheon Co. v. Hernandez (2003) The
Court finds that under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a neutral
no-rehire policy is a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for refusing to hire
an employee who had a record of drug addiction.
Disabled And The Administration:
Included here is a description of the help provided by the statutory services
for persons with disabilities. Watching several ministries / departments of the
government of India provides various concessions and the facilities that
1. Concession On Railways:
Railways allows persons with disabilities to travel at concession fares up to
75% in the first and second classes. Escorts accompanying blind, orthopedically
and mentally handicapped persons are also eligible to 75% concession in the
2. Air Travel Concession:
Indian Airlines allow 50% to blind persons on single journeys.
Payment of postage, both inland and foreign, for transmission of post of blind
literature packets is exempted if sent by surface route.
4. Conveyance Allowance:
All central government employees who are blind or orthopedically
handicapped are granted conveyance at 5% of the basic pay subject to a maximum
of INR 100 per month.
5. Educational Allowance:
Reimbursement of tuition fee of physically and mentally handicapped
children of the central government employees has been enhanced to INR 50/-.
6. Income Tax Concession:
The amount of deduction from total income of a person with blindness,
mental retardation or permanent physical disability has been increased to INR
Candidates with physical handicaps, appointed on a regional basis, be given as
far as possible, appointments as close to their native places as possible.
Constitutional Rights Of Disabled Persons :
1. Prohibition Of Discrimination:
Article 15 is a manifestation of “Right to Equality” under article 14,
as it enshrines a specific dimension of the principles of equality relating to
discrimination by state or various grounds . Under article 15 the protection
extends only to citizens , unlike article 14 which protects ‘ any person’ . Thus
in application article 15 protects from discriminatory state activities but the
ambit of article 15 is narrower than that of article 14.
Article 15 of the Indian constitution deals with “prohibition of
discrimination” on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
It runs as follows :
Article 15(2) says, no no citizen shall on the grounds only of religion,
race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subjected to any
disabilities liability restriction or condition with regard to :
(a) Access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public
(b) The use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public
resort maintained wholly or partly out of the state funds dedicated to the use
of the general public.
Equity In Social, Economics And Cultural Rights:
Article 25 of the CRDP recognizes the “right of a person with
disabilities to education. With a view to realizing this right without
discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity , state parties shall
ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning.” They
considered constitution to grant education to children with disabilities if they
explicitly guarantee the right to education , the right to free education, or
the right to compulsory education to children with disabilities or prohibit
discrimination in education on the basis if disability. Globally only 28% of
the countries provide some type of constitutional guarantee of educational
rights or the children with disabilities.
3. Right To Work:
Article 27 of the CRDP instructs states to “recognizes the right of
persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others; this includes
the rights to opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in
a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to
persons with disabilities.
Right To Liberty:
Article 14 of the CRPD instructs state parties to guarantee people with
disabilities the right to liberty and security of person. We considered the
right to liberty to be guaranteed to persons with disabilities if they were
explicitly granted the right to freedom or liberty. Globally, only 9% of the
constitution explicitly guarantee the right to liberty to persons with
disabilities. However 19% of the constitution specifies that the right to
liberty can be denied to persons with the mental health condition.
Right To Freedom of Expression:
In article 21, the CRPD states that to “take all appropriate measures
to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise the right to freedom of
expression and opinion include the freedom to seek, receive and impart
information and ideas on an equal basis with others and through all forms of
communications of their choice.”
Rights To Hold Legislative Office:
Article 29 of the CRPD guarantees the right of a persons with
disabilities “to stand for elections, to effectively hold office and perform
all public functionaries at all levels of government, facilitating the use of
assistive and new technologies where appropriate. 21%of the constitution
guarantee this right with disabilities either through specific guarantees of
political rights of person with disabilities (2%) quotas of seats reserved in
legislatures for person with disabilities (4%) or guarantees to citizen of the
right to hold and broad prohibition o discrimination based on disabilities
The components of this frame work documents defining human rights system
that protect and guarantee fundamental rights to all, regardless of location or
situation. These international and regional mechanism demonstrated concern over
abuses of human rights that affect person with disabilities and awareness of the
role that human rights can serve in the preventing these abuses and fostering
mental health throughout the population. Persons with disabilities will benefit
from the continual development of human rights system at the international and
regional levels. The respective system play a different complementary roles in
building and reinforcing a vibrant and enforceable human rights structure for
the protection and promotion of the rights of persons with mental disabilities.
The WHO mental health legislation manual will provide a useful guide for
national governments attempting to accomplish law reform. The human rights of
persons with mental disabilities can be effectively protected and promoted
through international human rights law.
1. Dr.U.Chandra, Human Rights, 8th ed., 2010
2. K.C.Joshi, International law & Human Rights, 3rd ed., 2012
3. Paras Diwan, Human Rights & the law, 2nd ed., 2008
4. Nihal Jayawickrama, the Judicial Application of Human Rights Law, 1st ed.,