9.6.1 As per the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, a “person with disability” means a person suffering from not less than 40 percent of any disability as certified by a medical authority. “Disability” as defined in Section 2(i) of the Act means– (i) blindness (ii) low vision (iii) leprosy cured (iv) hearing impairment (v) locomotor disability (vi) mental retardation (vii) mental illness.
9.6.2 As per the Census of India, 2011, there are nearly 26.8 million Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the country, which is nearly 2.21 percent of the total population.
PWDs in Central Government
9.6.3 The government provides three percent reservation in jobs for PWDs. Apart from this reservation at the entry stage, DoPT has issued instructions regarding identification of jobs, post-recruitment and pre-promotion training, providing aids/ assistive devices, accessibility and barrier free environment at work place, preference in government accommodation, grievance redressal, and preference in transfer/posting for PWDs. In a recent notification, a provision has been made for ten years’ (fifteen years in case of SC/ST and thirteen years in case of OBC candidates) relaxation in the upper age limit for direct recruitment to civil posts/services under the Central Government.
9.6.4 Moreover, there are certain special entitlements as given below:
i. Special Allowance for Child Care for Women with Disabilities at the rate of Rs.1,500 pm;
ii. Transport Allowance at double the normal rate, subject to a minimum of Rs.1,000 pm; iii. Constant Attendance Allowance for retired employees with 100 percent disablement at the rate of Rs.4,500 per month;
iv. Special Casual Leave for four days in a calendar year for specific requirements relating to disabilities;
v. Special Casual Leave for ten days in a calendar year for participation in Conferences/ Seminars/Trainings/Workshops related to disability and development.
9.6.5 In case the disability is work related, the following additional provisions are available:
a. Special Disability Leave;
c. Educational Concession to children of Defence personnel who are disabled in action.
9.6.6 For employees with differently abled children, Children Education Allowance and Hostel Subsidy is granted at double rate.
9.6.7 Associations of employees with disabilities made the following demands before the Commission:
i. Suitable enhancement in the existing provisions
ii. Provision of Common Room in offices with suitable recreational facilities
iii. Additional rebate in House Building Advance and Automobile Advance
iv. Establishment of Welfare Committees in the ministries
Analysis and Recommendations
9.6.8 The National Policy for Persons with Disabilities, 2006, enunciates the measures that need to be taken by the government to ensure equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation in society for PWDs, in consonance with the principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution. India is also a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities. Thus, provision of appropriate measures for employees with disabilities is the responsibility of the Union Government.
9.6.9 The Commission has made various recommendations regarding PWDs at different places in the report. They are consolidated here for ready reference:
i. In recognition of the singular responsibility faced by differently abled women in raising their children, the Special Allowance for Child Care for Women with Disabilities has been enhanced from the present rate of Rs.1,500 pm to Rs.3,000 pm
ii. Transport Allowance at double the normal rate has been retained, and the minimum amount has been increased from Rs.1,000 pm to Rs.2,250 pm
iii. Children Education Allowance and Hostel Subsidy have been kept at double rate for differently abled children
iv. Constant Attendance Allowance has been enhanced from Rs.4,500 pm to Rs.6,750 pm
v. Special Disability Leave has been subsumed in Work Related Illness and Injury Leave (WRIIL), with improved provisions
vi. Educational Concession, hitherto available only to the children of Defence personnel killed/missing/disabled in action, has been extended to similarly placed personnel of CAPFs, Indian Coast Guard, RPF and police forces of Union Territories mutatis mutandis
9.6.10 Besides the above recommendations, there are a few suggestions that can go a long way in improving the working environment for these employees:
i. In our interactions, it has been highlighted that easy access, particularly to toilets, remains an issue of concern. Hence, it is suggested that Guidelines and Space Standard for Barrier Free Built Environment for Disabled and Elderly Persons, issued by CPWD, Ministry of Urban Affairs and Employment, should invariably be followed while designing new government premises. Their application in the existing offices may also be explored.
ii. Every ministry should have a Welfare Committee, with due representation of differently abled employees, to address their concerns.
iii. The grievance redressal machinery should be strengthened and made more effective.