Our Constitution mandates that there must be equality among all people regardless of their caste, creed or gender. The Fundamental Rights are given to each and every person with the belief that there must be no discrimination among people all men and women are equally protected by the law. The system is a fair one in theory but in practice there are inherent flaws that exist in our society which are always working to deny justice to some. Being the second most populous country in the world, India also has its fair share of disabled people. As per the Persons With Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, a disability is classified as: – Blindness, Low Vision, Leprosy-Cured, Hearing Impairment, Locomotor Disability, Mental Retardation and Mental Illness. These categories have a multitude of sub-categories but our aim is to shed some light on the Rights of Blind people and to analyze the specific issue which is that people who are Blind or have Poor vision are not always able to differentiate between Coins or Currency Notes of Different denominations, an issue that has plagued our nation’s disabled for too long and through this initiative we hope to Highlight the key issues of this problem and humbly request that due action will be taken by the government to rectify the problem, granting this much needed right to the aggrieved.
The Human Rights Perspective
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in its preamble recognizes the importance of accessibility of physical, social, cultural and economic environment to all disabled people. Furthermore it also mandates that all persons with disabilities should enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Even the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights stresses the same point of view that disabled people should not be denied of any rights that are available to the common man. In Accordance with these guidelines, there has been a steady rise in the recognition of this specific problem and many nations have already taken steps to address it. The question now stands that when will we decide to accept that this is a valid problem that requires remedy and what will be done to enforce the protection of the economic rights of blind people.
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment have made a tremendous effort and culminated a draft pill called The Draft Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2012. The Bill has not been ratified by the Parliament and is not a law at present but there are specific clauses in this draft bill which clearly show the seriousness of the Government regarding the Rights of Disabled People.
Section 3 of the Draft Bill Directs the Government to take necessary steps to secure the following rights for disabled people:-
- Respect for inherent dignity and individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices
- Full and effective participation and inclusion in society
- Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity
- Equality of opportunity
Section 14 of the Draft Bill addresses the Protection of Disabled people from Abuse, Violence and Exploitation.
Section 47 and 48 of the Draft Bill discusses providing Accessibility to Disabled people.
The 1995 Disability Act does not have mention of the above stated provisions which is why the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment decided to Draft a new and improved version of the Bill and soon it will be presented in Parliament so that it may be passed and adopted.
It is ample clear from the above stated examples of the UNCRPD, the UNHDR and the Disabilities Draft Bill of 2012 that protecting the social and economic interests of disabled people is equally important as protecting the fundamental rights of every person. Which brings us to the Issue at Hand; often those with a reduced eye-sight or complete blindness are dependent on other people in most aspects of their lives. How can we expect a Blind person to live independently without even a small amount of aid and one of the leading problems is that blind people cannot differentiate between different currency notes or coins.