Applicability of RPwD Act, 2016

The RPwD Act, 2016 applies to both government establishments and private establishments. The term “establishment” includes government establishments, which are corporations established under Central or State Acts, authorities or bodies owned, controlled, or aided by the government or local authorities, and government companies as defined in the Companies Act, 2013. It also includes government departments. Private establishments encompass companies, firms, cooperatives, societies, associations, trusts, agencies, institutions, organisations, unions, factories, or any other establishments specified by the appropriate government through a notification.

Accessibility Guidelines Across Multiple Sectors for Persons with Disabilities

The RPwD Act 2016 requires the Central Government, in consultation with the Chief Commissioner, to establish rules for persons with disabilities to ensure accessibility standards in various areas. These include the physical environment, transportation, information and communication, and other facilities and services provided to the public in urban and rural areas. Compliance with these standards is outlined in the RPwD Rules under Rule 15. The following guidelines have been notified or are in draft form for public comments:

  1. Accessibility for ICT products and services
  2. Harmonized Guidelines and Space Standards for Barrier-Free Built Environment 2016
  3. Standard for Bus Body Code for the transportation system
  4. Harmonized Guidelines and Space Standards for universal accessibility in India 2021 (deadline: 31.05.2023)
  5. Accessibility Standards and Guidelines for Civil Aviation (deadline: 10.06.2023)
  6. Accessibility standards and guidelines for the Culture sector (monuments/sites/museums/libraries) (deadline: 10.06.2023)
  7. Accessible Sport complex and residential facilities for sports persons with disabilities (deadline: 10.06.2023)

Additionally, guidelines have been notified in the Gazette of India by the respective Ministries/Departments for the following areas:

  1. Accessibility standards for health care
  2. Guidelines on accessibility of Indian Railways stations and facilities for differently abled persons and passengers with reduced mobility (awaiting notification)
  3. Accessibility Guidelines and Standards for Higher Education Institutions and Universities (awaiting notification)
  4. Accessibility Guidelines for Bus Terminals and Bus Stops (awaiting notification)
  5. Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation guidelines (specific details not provided)

Compliances Required

Non-Discrimination: 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. Accordingly, the head of a private establishment 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[1]. 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.[2] 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 company 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. A Private Company 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 working at their premises. Also, the company is bound to register a copy of the said Policy with the Chief Commissioner or the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities.

Accessibility: Companies 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. Companies 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.


RPwD Act, 2016

Section 21 Every establishment is required to have an equal opportunity policy. This policy should outline the measures that the establishment plans to take to comply with the provisions of this Chapter. The Central Government will prescribe the specific manner in which this policy should be notified. Additionally, every establishment must register a copy of this policy with the Chief Commissioner or the State Commissioner, depending on the case.
Section 22 Compliance requirements for establishments:

1. All establishments must maintain records of persons with disabilities regarding employment-related matters, provided facilities, and other necessary information. The Central Government will prescribe the specific form and manner for record-keeping.

2. Employment exchanges are also required to maintain records of persons with disabilities seeking employment.

3. The records maintained under subsection (1) should be available for inspection during reasonable hours by individuals authorized on behalf of the appropriate Government.

Section 44 Compliance with accessibility norms is mandatory. Under the RPwD Act, no establishment will be granted permission to construct a building if the building plan does not follow the rules set by the Central Government. Additionally, no establishment will be issued a certificate of completion or allowed to occupy a building unless it has complied with the rules formulated by the Central Government.
Section 40 The Central Government, in consultation with the Chief Commissioner, creates rules that establish accessibility standards for persons with disabilities. These standards cover various aspects such as the physical environment, transportation, information and communication, including the use of appropriate technologies and systems, as well as other facilities and services available to the public in both urban and rural areas.

RPwD Rules, 2017

Rule 3 The head of the establishment must ensure that the rights and benefits provided under Section 3(3) of the Act are not used improperly to deny any rights or benefits to individuals with disabilities who are covered by the Act.
Rule 8 Compliance Requirements for Equal Opportunity Policy:

1. Every establishment must publish an equal opportunity policy for persons with disabilities.

2. The policy should be displayed preferably on the establishment’s website. If not possible, it should be prominently displayed within the premises.

3. The equal opportunity policy for private establishments with twenty or more employees and government establishments should include the following:

a. Facilities and amenities provided to enable persons with disabilities to perform their duties effectively.

b. List of posts suitable for persons with disabilities within the establishment.

c. Procedures for selecting persons with disabilities for various posts, including training, transfer and posting preferences, special leave, residential accommodation preferences (if applicable), and other facilities.

d. Provisions for assistive devices, barrier-free accessibility, and other accommodations for persons with disabilities.

e. Appointment of a liaison officer responsible for recruitment of persons with disabilities and provision of facilities and amenities for such employees.

4. The equal opportunity policy for private establishments with less than twenty employees should outline the facilities and amenities to be provided to enable persons with disabilities to effectively perform their duties in the establishment.

Rule 9 Compliance requirements for establishments:

1. Record Maintenance:

– Establishments covered under sub-rule (3) of rule 8 must maintain records.

– The records should include the following information:

– Number of employed persons with disabilities and their employment start dates.

– Names, genders, and addresses of persons with disabilities.

– Nature of disabilities of the employed persons.

– Description of the work performed by employed persons with disabilities.

– Details of facilities provided to persons with disabilities.


2. Inspection and Information:

– Establishments must allow authorities under the Act to inspect the records upon request.

– Establishments must provide any additional information required to ensure compliance with the Act’s provisions.

Rule 15 Compliance with Accessibility Standards:

1. All establishments must adhere to the following standards for physical environment, transport, and information and communication technology:


a) Public buildings must meet the standards outlined in the Harmonised Guidelines and Space Standards for Barrier Free Built Environment for Persons With Disabilities and Elderly Persons, issued by the Ministry of Urban Development in March 2016.


b) The transportation system must comply with the Bus Body Code standards specified in the notification issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India, vide number G.S.R. 895(E) dated September 20th, 2016.


c) Regarding Information and Communication Technology:


i) Websites should meet the standards specified in the guidelines for Indian Government websites, adopted by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Government of India.


ii) Documents placed on websites should be in Electronic Publication (ePUB) or Optical Character Reader (OCR) based PDF format.


Note: The Central Government will specify the accessibility standards for other services and facilities within six months of the notification of these rules.

2. The relevant Ministries and Departments are responsible for ensuring compliance with the accessibility standards specified in these rules, either through the respective domain regulators or by other means.

Date of Compliances

  • 19th day of April, 2017, as the date on which the said Act shall come into force.
  • As per section 45 of the RPWD Act, 2016- All existing public buildings shall be made accessible in accordance with the rules formulated by the Central Government within a period not exceeding five years from the date of notification of such rules
  • As per section 46 of the RPWD Act, 2016, the service providers whether Government or private shall provide services in accordance with the rules on accessibility formulated by the Central Government under section 40 within a period of two years from the date of notification of such rules: Provided that the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Commissioner may grant extension of time for providing certain category of services in accordance with the said rules.

Consequences of Failure to Comply

Contravention 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, 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.