The National Trust is an autonomous organization of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, set up under the “National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities” Act (Act 44 of 1999)
The National Trust was set up to find an answer to the worries of parents -
"What will happen to my child when I am no more?"
Disabilities under The National Trust Act
The National Trust works for the welfare of persons with any of the following four disabilities:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Mental Retardation
- Multiple Disabilities
The basic objectives of the National Trust are:-
- To enable and empower persons with disability to live as independently and as fully as possible within and as close to the community to which they belong;
- To strengthen facilities to provide support to persons with disability to live within their own families;
- To extend support to registered organizations to provide need based services during period of crisis in the family of persons with disability;
- To deal with problems of persons with disability who do not have family support;
- To promote measures for the care and protection of persons with disability in the event of death of their parent or guardian;
- To evolve procedures for the appointment of guardians and trustees for persons with disability requiring such protection;
- To facilitate the realization of equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation of persons with disability; and
- To do any other act which is incidental to the aforesaid objects.
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What is Guardianship?
A guardian is a person who is appointed to look after another person or his property. He or she assumes the care and protection of the person for whom he/she is appointed the guardian. The guardian takes all legal decisions on behalf of the person and the property of the ward. The occasion for taking care of another person may be his minority that is, a person who has not completed 18 years of age. It can also refer to guardianship of a person who because of physical and mental deficiencies is unable to take care of himself or his property. From early times, the condition of minority has been the ground for appointment of guardians in all societies. This is due to the fact that a minor person is considered unfit to take decisions for himself, which can be binding on him as regards others. Therefore, a minor person is treated in law as incompetent to enter into contract with a person who is an adult. In all matters therefore, a minor has also been considered unfit to represent himself except through his guardian. A guardian takes decision on behalf of the minor for protecting the interests of the minor and his property.
Special situation of persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple disabilities.
Persons with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and multiple disabilities are in a special situation as even after they have acquired 18 years of age, they may not always be capable of managing their own lives or taking legal decisions for their own betterment. Therefore, they may require someone to represent their interests in the legal areas throughout their lives. However, in cases of cerebral palsy and multiple disabilities, there may be a need for only limited guardianship because of the availability of enabling mechanisms and/ or scientific facilitations which enable such persons to function with varying degrees of independence.
Legal Guardianship under the National Trust Act
Under section 14 of the National Trust Act, the Local Level Committee headed by the District Collector is empowered to receive application in Form A under Rule 16(1) & appoint legal guardians in Form B under Rule 16(2) for persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation & Multiple Disabilities. It also provides mechanism for monitoring and protecting their interests including their properties.
Why Legal Guardian ?
To fill a legal vacuum since other laws of guardianship are only for minors Impaired capacity of persons with disability for making informed decision making.
Obligations of the Guardian
It is the function of the Local Level Committee to indicate in its order of appointment the obligations to be fulfilled by the guardian appointed by it. These obligations will pertain to taking care of the person and/ or property and maintenance of the person with disability. Each case will have to be dealt with separately by the Committee and such obligations or duties will have to be specifically pointed out in the order of appointment. The Committee has to ensure that the person with disability is living in the same area in which the guardian to be appointed is living so that it becomes possible for the guardian to execute his duties and fulfill his obligations towards the ward.
Local Level Committee has to ensure that the Legal Guardian appointed by it –
- does not make any profit out of his appointment
- must look after the ward sincerely and diligently and deal with his property as a man of ordinary prudence would do for the welfare of the person with disability.
- must not mortgage, sell, lease, exchange or transfer the immovable property of the person with disability without the prior permission of the Local Level Committee obtained in this behalf.
- must see that the interests of the ward as well as that of his property are well secured and protected and that no other person is able to access or deal with such properties or exploit the ward because of his negligence as a guardian.
- must submit Form C (under Rule 27(1)) of return covering property of the ward within 6 months of his appointment as guardian.
- must submit Form D (under Rule 27(2)) of account of the property and assets of the ward within a period of 3 months of the close of every financial year.
- does not take advantage of the disability of the ward to his own advantage or neglect his obligations in having to submit on time, Form of Returns in Form-C & Form D (attached to the National Trust Rules)
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Source: The National Trust