The Office of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD), that was created to protect the rights of disabled people, is finding it difficult to help those approaching the office, as its orders are rarely followed by government officials.
As per the Census of 2011, there are 2.68 crore (2.21% of the population) persons with disabilities in the country and the Office of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities was set up under Section 57 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights & Full Participation) Act, 1995, to take steps to safeguard the rights of persons with disabilities who Prime Minister Narendra Modi prefers to refer to as “divyang”.
G.L. Batra, an official who looks after transfer cases at the office of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, situated here, told The Sunday Guardian that the body does not have any actual power.
“Our role is just advisory. We are a quasi-judicial body and our orders are not binding on any organisation or administrative units. So at times, they just choose to ignore our advice even after repeated reminders.”
Asked how an aggrieved person would get justice, he said, “If an aggrieved person is not satisfied with our advice or if our advice is not being followed, he/she may approach the court. We cannot do much about it,” he said. An official with the Ministry of Home Affairs, who has a handicapped son and who has been trying to reverse the orders of transfer to a remote place on the ground of his son’s disability, said that he was very disappointed with the role of the office of the CCPD. He said, “What is the use of such a commission whose orders are rarely followed by the government departments? Mine is not a single case; there are several cases where such advisory orders are being conveniently ignored. The rules clearly say that I cannot be transferred to a place where my son cannot be treated, but that is what has happened and when I approached the commission’s office, they issued an order which was ignored by my department. If we ultimately have to go to the court, why come here? It is nothing more than harassment and waste of money.”
An official with the Office of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, who is not authorised to speak to the media, pointed out the flaws in the rules and regulations of the commission and in the terms and conditions set by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).
“Even though the government’s policy is to favour disabled persons, the terms and conditions set by the rules of employment demeans our purpose, when they add clauses like, ‘Administrative Exigencies’ and ‘Economic Viability’. The administrative units exploit this part of the rulebook and we cannot do much. The government could have given us more stringent power to help persons with genuine problems,” he added.