Impact Feature Issue on Self-Determination and Supported Decision-Making for People with Intellectual, Developmental, and Other Disabilities

A Legal Perspective on Self-Determination: Supported Decision-Making in India


Amvalika Senapati is Deputy Director, Advocacy, at Shishu Sarothi Centre for Rehabilitation and Training for Multiple Disability, Guwahati, India. She may be reached at amvalikas@gmail.com.

In India, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act of 2016 recognizes the “legal capacity” of persons with disabilities to inherit and enjoy all legal rights on an equal basis with others, and the right to equal recognition everywhere as any other person before the law. It also provides that where a person with disability who had been provided adequate and appropriate support is unable to make legally-binding decisions, they may be provided further support of a limited guardian to take legally-binding decisions on his/her behalf in consultation with such person. Although limiting from the perspective of the international concept of full autonomy, with the paradigm shift in the approach to disability and the ushering in of the first human rights instrument of the 21st century – the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities –  this is, nevertheless, a step forward from the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act of 1999. That Act had long provided for plenary guardianship, based on the premise that people with developmental and intellectual disabilities are inherently incapable of deciding their own welfare and need a guardian of both person and property.