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The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill was meant to be an enactment to codify India's obligations under the UNCRPD

, which it ratified without reservations. There was a Committee set up in 2009 by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, headed by Smt. Sudha Kaul, to draft a Bill to this effect. Like the UNCRPD says, the Committee included different people with disabilities - across disabilities - to draft this Bill. The Draft Bill of 2011 was submitted to the Ministry, and in response to that or otherwise, the Ministry released a Draft Bill in 2012, which are both on the Ministry's website. The Draft Bill of 2012 is not as comprehensive and inclusive as the 2011 one, and there were certain serious issues raised before the Ministry on the notification of the 2012 Draft. Thereafter the Draft, apparently still in its 2012 format, went to the various Cabinet Minstries, and then circulated among States. Some version of this Bill was cleared by Cabinet in December 2013. Thereafter, organizations of persons with disabilities, confident that the 2012 Draft was intact, began protests for the speedy introduction and passage of the Bill. I do not know why they did not believe that there had been changes made, but I assume it was in good faith. These protests were largely led by groups in Delhi who had better access to information. Some pockets of regional groups were demanding for information on the contents of the Bill. They remained unanswered. Meenakshi B of the Disability Rights Alliance, Tamil Nadu, followed up with the Ministries and the general passage of the Bill, and she was told that the Bill was “top secret”. Vaishnavi J, one of the founders of The Banyan, also received similar cryptic feedback. On Wednesday, the 22nd of January, Adv. Santosh Kumar Rungta released a copy of the Bill along with his comments on how it was unsatisfactory on the point of reservations. This was not an official release. When I read the Bill I was shocked at how not only had it completely changed the 2012 Draft, it was also oscillating between lip service and absolute violations of the UNCRPD. Parliament sits on the 5th of Feb now, and since we are dealing with people with disabilities here, it is difficult to spread accessible information and raise debate because of their unique needs, even so, we are trying. Inclusive Planet has prepared an analysis of the Bill with respect to India’s obligations under the UNCRPD and NALSAR has released a comparison between the 2012 Bill and this Bill as well. You might want to look into this. Personally I feel that the needs of Persons with Disabilities are being sacrificed for a quickfix social legislation on the part of the Congress Government to campaign with. There is no question of reference to the standing committee, because there is no time before Parliament is dissolved before elections for the three months for a SC to give its report. I can be reached at 9884045265 for any further information that you might need. Other persons who you might want to speak to about this Bill, the sequence of events, and the withholding of information: Vaishnavi J 9003088388 Pavan Muntha, Swaadhikaar, 9493942668 Rajiv Rajan, Ektha, 9840630268 Meenakshi, Disability Rights Alliance, Tamil Nadu 9840135750 Nilesh Singhit, Mumbai, 9920558867 Please note that some of the persons whose numbers I have given are persons with disabilities and may require some accommodation while seeking their opinion. The journalist covering this story should keep this in mind, and may contact the people by SMS beforehand to know what their preferred method of communication is. The Disability Rights Alliance of Tamil Nadu is conducting a conference/consultation on the 30th on the new Bill. We are preparing information on the Bill and making it available in Braille and Sign Language and we will have persons proficient in forms of AAC to attempt to include the rights of all persons with disabilities. Unlike some organziations who have decided to give a list of amendments to Cabinet to carry out in the Bill pre introduction, we believe that there is not enough time for this to be a democratic process with all persons with disabilities included, and so for now we want the Ministry to withdraw the Bill from Cabinet for reconsideration on account of this grave, for lack of a better word, fraud, played by the Ministry in making so many changes without even releasing the Bill in the public before its introduction in Cabinet. Best regards, Amba Salelkar Inclusive Planet Centre for Disability Law and Policy.