Keeping aside the acrimony over demonetisation issue which paralysed the Winter session, Parliament passed the Disabilities Bill within two hours after a short debate on the last day of the session.
It provides for imprisonment of at least six months up to two years, along with a fine ranging between Rs 10,000 and Rs 5 lakh for discriminating against differently-abled persons.
Under this bill scheme of 'universal identity card for the disabled' is on the anvil and an agency has already been finalised for the purpose. The proposed card would be linked to the Aadhar card to help the disabled all over the country in a seamless fashion. Government said the universal identity card will overcome the problem of disability certificate being faced by disables.
In the bill, disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept and the types of disabilities have been increased from existing seven to 21. The Centre will have the power to add more types of disabilities to it.
The types of disabilities now include mental illness, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, chronic neurological conditions.
It also strengthens the office of chief commissioner and state commissioners for Persons with Disabilities which will act as regulatory bodies.
Government has joined hands with German and British firms for making available state-of-the-art limbs to the disabled wherever possible. The bill, which aims at securing and enhancing the rights and entitlements of disabled persons, also gives effect to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and related matters.