Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act’) replaced the Persons with Disability (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 with effect from April, 2017. The Act was enacted to give effect to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with disability and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Additional rights have been conferred on the disable persons like access to justice and free education. Further, the role of local authorities, National fund and the state fund for persons with disability has been created.
While most obligations under the Act are imposed on the public sector, there are some obligations on private establishments as well. The definition of a private establishment under the Act is quite broad and includes a company, firm, cooperative or other society, association, trust, union and factories. While it is not compulsory for private companies to hire Persons with disabilities under the new law, the private sector has to comply with the following obligations under the Act.
COMPLIANCES FOR PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS IN INDIA
Equality and non-discrimination are the core elements of all human rights, and the effective observance of the same is of material importance with regards to persons with disabilities.
According to Rule 3 of the Rules, the head of a private establishment employing 20 or more persons, is obligated to ensure that no person with a disability shall be discriminated against on the ground of his/her disability unless such an act or omission is proved to be a rational method adopted for achieving a legitimate object. Suppose, the said discrimination is done on unjustifiable grounds, then the concerned person may file a complaint with the head of the establishment or Chief/State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, regarding such discriminatory conduct of the establishment. An action shall then be initiated in pursuance to such a complaint and a remedy shall be provided under the provisions of the said Act.
Equal Opportunity Policy:
Every establishment indulges itself in the activity of policymaking for carrying out various operations in the course of their business, and the law mandates the formulation of one such policy for persons with disabilities at their premises.
According to Section 21 of the Act r/w Rule 8 of the Rules, a private establishment is mandated to publish an equal opportunity policy for disabled persons, and such policy has to be displayed on their official website or at a place that is clearly visible to all personnel’s working at their premises. Also, the establishment is bound to register a copy of the said Policy with the Chief Commissioner or the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities.
Further, an Equal Opportunity Policy of a private company having 20 or more employees shall include the following-
- Facilities and amenities provided to disabled persons to enable them effectively work in the company;
- List of posts identified suitable for disabled persons, in their establishment;
- Manner of selection of disabled persons for various posts, post-recruitment and pre-promotion training, preference in transfer, preference in allotment of residential accommodation(if any) and other facilities;
- Provisions for assistive devices, barrier-free accessibility and other provisions for disabled persons; and
- Appointment of a liaison officer to look after the recruitment of disabled persons.
And in case a private establishment has less than 20 employees then the policy contents shall include the information pertaining to facilities and amenities to be provided to the disabled persons in order to enable them to effectively discharge their duties at the establishment.
Records of Persons with Disability:
According to Section 22 of the Act r/w Rule 9 of the Rules, private establishments are required to maintain records containing the details such as;
- number of disabled persons who are employed and the date when they were employed;
- name, gender, and address of such persons;
- nature of disability of such persons;
- nature of work being rendered by such employed person; and
- kind of facilities being provided to such persons
According to Section 44 of the Act r/w Rule 15 of the Rules, a private establishment will have to comply with the standards of accessibility with respect to physical environment, transportation, information and communication, including appropriate technologies and systems, and other facilities. Private establishment shall not be granted permission to build any structure if the said building plan does not adhere to the Rules formulated under Section 40 of the said Act. And further, it shall not be provided with a certificate of completion or allowed to take occupation of the building unless it has adhered to the provided rules.
CONSEQUENCES OF CONTRAVENING THE PROVISIONS OF THE SAID ACT AND RULES
According to Section 89 of the Act, any contravention by any person of the said Act and Rules shall attract a fine which may extend to Rs. 10, 000 for the first contravention, and not less than Rs. 50,000 but may extend to Rs. 5, 00, 000, for subsequent contraventions.
Further, according to Section 90 of the Act, where a company commits an offence under this Act, every person who at the time the offence was committed was in charge of and was responsible to, the company, for the conduct of the business of the company, shall be assumed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly. And where an offence so committed by a company is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of any director, manager, secretary or another officer of the company, such person shall also be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.