On Wednesday, Rajya Sabha passed The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014. The bill seeks improve the overall conditions that prevail in the country for people with different kinds of disabilities.
In effect, the bill seeks to give effect to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The bill has increased the reservation quota for disabled people to 4 % from the existing 3%. The bill has also increased the categories of disabilities to 21 from 7.
As the proceedings began in the Upper House, the Opposition and the government both were willing to pass the bill without any discussion but Deputy Chairman of the House PJ Kurien disallowed the passage of the bill without a discussion.
“Priority should be given to this bill…it should be passed without discussion….so that the other house can pass it,” urged Anand Sharma Dy Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
However, PJ Kurien did agree to take up the bill in the zero hour because of absolute consensus in the House on the matter.
Members of the House from different parties spoke about the bill briefly.
Thaawar Chand Gehlot, the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment thanked the House for agreeing to pass the bill.
Members cutting across party lines called for the bill a big step to improve the conditions of the disabled in the country. They also called for better representation of the disabled in government jobs.
“A very modest estimate is 5 per cent of the people in India suffer from some form of disability,” said Congress member Karan Singh.
He also urged the minister to ensure that the percentage of reservation which stands at 4 per cent in the current bill, should be filled.
“In reality they (reserved seats for the disabled) are never filled adequately,” warned Singh while seeking the minister’s assurance to fill the seats.
Trinamool Congress also reiterated what Karan Singh demanded whereas as Samajwadi Party’s Naresh Agrawal and YSR Congress’ Vijaysai Reddy called for increasing the percentage of reservation.
BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra called for the use of the term ‘differently abled people’ rather than ‘disabled people’.
Before the amendments were put to voice vote Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot assured the House that the government was committed to fulfill 4 per cent reservation promised in the bill.
The amendments to the bill were then adopted and put to vote one by one and the bill was finally cleared in the post lunch session.