Shri Prasanna Kumar Pincha, whose two year stint as the Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) ended on December 27 2014, has left an indelible ink on the disability movement in the country. The CCPD is appointed by the Government of India as per the Section 57 of the Persons with Disability Act, 1995. Being totally blind by birth, his visionary intent and foresightedness is palpable in his groundbreaking judgments
In February 2013, His Office issued the comprehensive uniform guidelines for conducting examinations for persons with disabilities. This Office Memorandum is hailed as pathbreaking judgment by any CCPD since the establishment of the office in 2001. Stories abound that Students with disabilities are often discriminated in the entrance examinations by the exam conducting authorities. 26 February 2013 judgment is a big step forward towards putting an end to such humiliation. As a result of that ruling, the Kerala High Court directed the University Grants Commission to provide NET exam question papers in Braill to all print-disabled examinees. Following that order, UGC has been providing question papers in Braille since June 2014.
His Office also took suo-motu notice against the ministry (MSJE) under which it operates. Mr Pincha summoned MSJE official for not reviewing the list of identified posts as stipulated under the section 32 of the PWD Act. Section 32 of the PWD calls upon the State to review/update the list of identified posts after every 3 years. In the order delivered on 23 November 2012, He directed the Ministry of Social Justice and empowerment to notify the updated list of identified posts and comply within one month. Consequently, the government of India published the newly updated list in early 2013.
In the whole of February this year, disability rights activists staged a successful countrywide movement. It aimed to prevent the passage of anti-disabled RPD Bill which government of that time seemed adamant to legislate in haste without discussion. Delhi Police even batoned peaceful protesters which attracted strong condemnation from the CCPD. Unexpectedly, when the last parliament session of the UPA II government got over, it again stepped-up its efforts to bring RPD Bill through an ordinance. When the ordinance route seemed imminent, Mr Pincha, went out of the box and wrote a letter to the prime minister expressing his reservation against the unconstitutional ordinance. His avowed commitment towards ensuring non-discrimination and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities was evident from the letter which he wrote to the former prime minister Manmohan Singh.
Mr Pincha’s pioneering legacy of disability advocacy is a solid Launchpad which needs to be strengthened by the prospective CCPD. During his tenure he has galvanized the recently established department of Disability Affairs’ which is responsible for dispersing funds and overseeing its actual implementation. His unblemished track record and unflinching commitment towards espousing the rights of persons with disabilities should serve as the eye-opener for the government. And next CCPD should also be appointed who is a person with disability of high repute.