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Benefit for the disabled — new law

Q: What are the changes in the matter of deductions available for handicapped persons by the Finance Act, 2003?

A: Sections 80DD grants deduction for maintenance and medical treatment of a dependent with a disability, while Sec. 80U grants deduction for persons with disability. Finance Act, 2003 now requires disability to be one within the meaning of Sec. 2(1) of The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, (Disabilities Act) to avail the enlarged deduction of Rs. 50,000 from AY 2004-05. Similarly, persons with severe disability have to satisfy the condition under Sec. 56(4) of the same Act to get a larger deduction of Rs. 75,000. The disability has to be certified by a medical authority in the prescribed form and manner, with medical authority being one referred under Sec. 2(p) of the same Act.

Disability has been defined in Sec. 2(i) of the Disabilities Act as under:

"2(i) `Disability' means: (i) blindness; (ii) low vision; (iii) leprosy-cured; (iv) hearing impairment; (v) locomotor disability; (vi) mental retardation; and (vii) mental illness".

The definition is incomplete because each disability is again defined separately so that these definitions are also relevant.

Blindness and low vision are both defined in clause 2(b) of the Act, which reads as under:

"2(b) `Blindness' refers to a condition where a persons suffers from any of the following conditions, namely, (i) total absence of sight; or (ii) visual acuity not exceeding 6/60 or 20/200 (snellen) in the better eye with correcting lenses; or (iii) limitation of the field of vision subtending an angle of 20 degree or worse".

(To be continued)

S. Rajaratnam

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