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Rights for Persons with Special Needs

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

The Constitution of India applies uniformly to every legal citizen of India, whether they are healthy or disabled in any way (physically or mentally)

Under the Constitution the disabled have been guaranteed the following fundamental rights:

The Constitution secures to the citizens including the disabled, a right of justice, liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, equality of status and of opportunity and for the promotion of fraternity.Article 15(1) enjoins on the Government not to discriminate against any citizen of India (including disabled) on the ground of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.Article 15 (2) States that no citizen (including the disabled) shall be subjected to any disability, liability, restriction or condition on any of the above grounds in the matter of their access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment or in the use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of government funds or dedicated to the use of the general public. Women and children and those belonging to any socially and educationally backward classes or the Scheduled Castes & Tribes can be given the benefit of special laws or special provisions made by the State.There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens (including the disabled) in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State.No person including the disabled irrespective of his belonging can be treated as an untouchable. It would be an offence punishable in accordance with law as provided by Article 17 of the Constitution.Every person including the disabled has his life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.There can be no traffic in human beings (including the disabled), and beggar and other forms of forced labour is prohibited and the same is made punishable in accordance with law (Article 23).Article 24 prohibits employment of children (including the disabled) below the age of 14 years to work in any factory or mine or to be engaged in any other hazardous employment. Even a private contractor acting for the Government cannot engage children below 14 years of age in such employment.Article 25 guarantees to every citizen (including the disabled) the right to freedom of religion. Every disabled person (like the non-disabled) has the freedom of conscience to practice and propagate his religion subject to proper order, morality and health.No disabled person can be compelled to pay any taxes for the promotion and maintenance of any particular religion or religious group.No Disabled person will be deprived of the right to the language, script or culture which he has or to which he belongs.Every disabled person can move the Supreme Court of India to enforce his fundamental rights and the rights to move the Supreme Court is itself guaranteed by Article 32.No disabled person owning property (like the non-disabled) can be deprived of his property except by authority of law though right to property is not a fundamental right. Any unauthorized deprivation of property can be challenged by suit and for relief by way of damages.Every disabled person (like the non-disabled) on attainment of 18 years of age becomes eligible for inclusion of his name in the general electoral roll for the territorial constituency to which he belongs.

Education Law for the Disabled

The right to education is available to all citizens including the disabled. Article 29(2) of the Constitution provides that no citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on the ground of religion, race, caste or language.Article 45 of the Constitution directs the State to provide free and compulsory education for all children (including the disabled) until they attain the age of 14 years. No child can be denied admission into any education institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on the ground of religion, race, casteor language.

Health Laws

Article 47 of the constitution imposes on the Government a primary duty to raise the level of nutrition and standard of living of its people and make improvements in public health - particularly to bring about prohibition of the consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious toone’s health except for medicinal purposes.The health laws of India have many provisions for the disabled. Some of the Acts which make provision for health of the citizens including the disabled may be seen in the Mental Health Act, 1987 (See later in the chapter).

Family Laws

Various laws relating to the marriage enacted by the Government for DIFFERENT communities apply equally to the disabled. In most of these Acts it has been provided that the following circumstances will disable a person from undertaking a marriage. These are:

Where either party is an idiot or lunatic,Where one party is unable to give a valid consent due to unsoundness of mind or is suffering from a mental disorder of such a kind and extent as to be unfit for ‘marriage for procreation of children’Where the parties are within the degree of prohibited relationship or are sapindas of each other unless permitted by custom or usage.Where either party has a living spouse

The rights and duties of the parties to a marriage whether in respect of disabled or non-disabled persons are governed by the specific provisions contained in different marriage Acts, such as the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the Christian Marriage Act, 1872 and the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1935. Other marriage Acts which exist include; the Special Marriage Act, 1954 (for spouses of differing religions) and the Foreign Marriage Act, 1959 (for marriage outside India). The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 as amended in 1978 to prevent the solemnization of child marriages also applies to the disabled. A Disabled person cannot act as a guardian of a minor under the Guardian and

Wards Act, 1890 if the disability is of such a degree that one cannot act as a guardian of the minor. A similar position is taken by the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, as also under the Muslim Law

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