Roadblock to the RPwD Act

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, a landmark piece of legislation aimed at ensuring equal opportunities, care, protection, and welfare for individuals with disabilities, stands as a beacon of inclusivity and compassion. Enacted in 2016, this legislation signifies a pivotal step towards fostering a society where every individual, regardless of their abilities, can lead a dignified life. However, the recent revelation that several states and UTs, including J&K, are yet to constitute the prescribed fund mandated by the Act is disheartening, to say the least. It’s been more than four years since the RPwD Act was implemented in J&K, yet the UT Administration has faltered in its responsibility to establish the essential fund meant for persons with disabilities (PwDs). This delay not only reflects a disregard for the rights of PwDs but also undermines the spirit of the legislation itself. The failure to frame the requisite rules and establish the prescribed fund is a glaring example of administrative inertia, which deprives individuals with disabilities of essential support and services they are entitled to receive.
The significance of the prescribed fund cannot be overstated. It serves as a crucial resource for addressing the diverse needs of PwDs, including provisions for education, healthcare, assistive devices, and employment opportunities. Without adequate funding mechanisms in place, the aspirations and well-being of PwDs remain unfulfilled, perpetuating a cycle of marginalisation and exclusion. Moreover, the Supreme Court’s strict stance on the J&K Government’s failure to comply with the provisions of the Act underscores the gravity of the situation. The establishment of the prescribed fund is not merely a legal obligation; it is a moral imperative. It is a testament to a society’s commitment to upholding the inherent dignity and rights of all its members. By neglecting this fundamental aspect of the RPwD Act, the UT administration in J&K is somehow ignoring the principles of equality and social justice enshrined in the Constitution.
Furthermore, the delay in constituting the prescribed fund reflects a broader systemic issue concerning the implementation of disability rights legislation across the country. It highlights the need for greater accountability, transparency, and proactive measures to ensure the effective realisation of the rights of PwDs. The absence of a well-defined roadmap for the implementation of the RPwD Act undermines its transformative potential and renders it ineffective in addressing the entrenched barriers faced by PwDs. The UT Administration in J&K must expedite the process of constituting the prescribed fund without further delay. This requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders, including Government officials, civil society organisations, and the wider community. Clear timelines must be established, and mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation should be put in place to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Act. Moreover, the UT Administration must prioritise the empowerment and inclusion of PwDs in all spheres of life. This entails not only the provision of financial resources but also the creation of enabling environments that foster their participation and contribution to society. Investment in inaccessible infrastructure, inclusive education, skill development programmes, and affirmative action measures are essential for dismantling barriers and promoting the full realisation of the rights of PwDs.
On papers, the RPwD Act exists, but in reality, most important clauses remain unimplemented. Without financial and other help, it is quite difficult for PwD to survive in these times. A commitment should be there to build a society where every individual, regardless of their abilities, is valued, respected, and afforded equal opportunities. The establishment of the prescribed fund in J&K must not be delayed any further. PwD are not ordinary people who can run from pillar to post to get justice. It is time for the authorities to demonstrate their unwavering commitment to upholding the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities and to ensure that no one is left behind in the journey towards inclusivity and social justice.

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