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Misbehaviour of Social welfare department of Delhi towards Janta Aadharsh Andh Vidyalaya’s Students (Person with Disabilities)

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Prashant Kumar

M.A final year, Delhi School of Social work

Four visually challenged students resident of Janta Aadharsh Andh Vidyalaya, Shadik Nagar, New Delhi, had applied for disability pension six months ago. In order to inquire about status (reason for non-sanction of pension) they met senior authorities (Finance Assistance Department) of Department of Social Welfare. The students alleged misbehavior and non-cooperation by the staffs as they were made to move from one department to another but denied information that they sought. Misusing power of her post the official used abusive language and instead blamed the students for their tone of speech. The authorities went further by scolding the students to use legal action against them. One of the sub ordinate official to her threatened the students by saying that “how dare you talk to my senior like that? And subsequently asked to leave the office”. When the students demanded status of their pension in writing the authorities bluntly refused to do so.

The whole matter pertains to the Financial Assistance to person with special needs Scheme of the GNCTD in which there is a provision of Rs. 1500 per month to the PWDs. Delhi govt. recently hiked the pension of persons with disability by Rs. 1000 making it Rs. 2500 per month in recent budget. According to CAG Report for the year 2015, there are total 45,471 beneficiaries covered under this scheme whereas according to census 2011, the total population of PWDs in Delhi is 2,34,882. According to the same census only 48.74 % persons with disability have a disability certificate without which nobody is even eligible for pension. It’s a known fact that people easily get their pension by the mercy of local leader (MLA, MP and Counselors of the area). But not everyone has access to them. So, if you are a common man you might end up running from pillar to post for the pension exactly how our students ended up. In the same CAG Report it was stated that “the department lost 2.72 crore per month to ineligible persons” and department of social welfare had not conducted verification of beneficiaries under the same scheme.

In the present case, these students were denied pension under validation drive initiated by the department. They were told that as their parents are not resident of Delhi and they stay in a hostel provided by an NGO they are not eligible for the pension. Contrary to it the fact remains that the students of government run such hostels are getting the pension. It’s an irony that they can cast vote in the elections but they are devoid of entitlement on same parameters of residence ship.

Despite the fact that accessibility and coverage to the pension scheme is meager, the department is punishing the students by de-voiding them from their right, for their own inefficiency in devising a proper mechanism of verification and validation of pension. There is no doubt that there are fraud and ineligible pensioners but the law of the land mandates that no poor should be punished even if a culprit gets unpunished. The department should make sure that the neediest like our students should not suffer the brunt especially when only 35% of persons with disability are literate in Delhi.

When the latest Right to Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 {newly constituted act}, states a penal and capital punishment for use of abusive language by public authorities, and today these PWDs were thrown out of social welfare department when they enquired about their own rights. In this dismal scenario, execution and implementation of this new act is questionable when the departments like Social welfare department,  authorities are the one initiating not respecting dignity of PWDs.

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