DISASTER MANAGEMENT ACT, 2005 & EPIDEMIC DISEASES ACT, 1897: LOOKING AT THE PANDEMIC THROUGH A DISABILITY INCLUSION LENS
The pandemic has redefined the current world order and the functioning of society in a variety of ways. The rippling effects of the pandemic has been felt by the world at large and has impacted the global population in a myriad of ways. However, its effect on the disabled community has further marginalized an already vulnerable community. It is important to analyse the laws set in place for the pandemic on inclusion of the disabled community.
The Disaster Management Act came into existence in 2005 and was the first legislation to give a uniform frame for responding to disasters. While the Act in Section 12(ii) speaks about special provisions during disasters for widows and orphans, it is silent on inclusivity and special provisions for Persons with Disabilities. While the Disaster Management Act does not specify inclusivity in terms of PWDs, it can be read in tandem with The Rights of Persons with Disability Act which promises inclusivity and provides equal protection and safety in terms of disasters.
The Epidemic Diseases Act which came into existence in 1897 as a response to Bombay’s bubonic plague in the Pre-Independence Era, however, has no clause for special provisions for PWDs.
Covid-19 has shown the glaring difference between legislations and their execution, especially when it comes to PWDs. When it comes to implementation, there is a lack of inclusivity in the safety and preventive measures taken. Equity and inclusivity in legislations and public policies can only be achieved if PWDs are invited to form part of the decision-making process and are not merely recipients of the policies and legislations.