GUWAHATI: Almost two years ago in December 2016, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPWD), 2016 was passed. But in the state of Assam, the process of issuance of Disability Certificate for all the 21 disabilities recognised under the said law is yet to be realised.
One such case is that of Sabrina Begum, a PhD scholar under Tezpur Central University, Sonitpur, Assam. As a person with disability (thalassemia), she wanted to apply for the National Fellowship granted by the University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi but could not do so, as she didn’t have a Disability Certificate. On being approached by her, the Disability Law Unit of Shishu Sarothi requested the Directorate of Health Services, Assam to consider the case of Begum and issue a Disability Certificate on an urgent basis. On no response being forthcoming, the Gauhati High Court was also approached and by order dated December 11, 2018, the Court directed the Petitioner (Sabrina Begum), to appear before the Joint Director of Health Services, Kamrup (Metro), Guwahati within 7 days from date of order and directed the certifying authority to examine the petitioner, and issue the certificate of disability, within a period of 7 days from the date of appearance, if she fulfilled the required criteria.
Shockingly, when the order of the court was conveyed to the Joint Director of Health Services, Kamrup (Metro) on Thursday, he expressed his inability to direct any doctor to consider her application for disability certificate, on the ground that doctors are yet to receive training on assessment of disabilities under the RPWD Act. A detailed Assessment Guidelines had been issued earlier this year by the central government which details the assessment process and how to quantify the percentage of disability for all the 21 disabilities. Training on the said assessment guidelines is yet to happen for doctors in the state for a series of reasons from officials being engaged in NRC process to Panchayat elections at the moment, and so on and so forth. Thalassemia being one of the specified disabilities under The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, the petitioner is eligible to be issued a Disability Certificate under the said law and denial of the same inspite of clear directions from the Court has been considered a flagrant violation of right of the person with disability, a press release stated.
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