ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the federal and provincial governments to extend every facility to people with disabilities in jobs, transport and housing as well as at public places.
Authored by Justice Ijazul Ahsan, the 11-page verdict also asked the federal and provincial governments to advertise vacant posts falling in the employment quota of the people with disabilities and ensure successful candidates were appointed against regional quotas of the areas they belonged to.
The judgement was announced on a petition placed before the SC in 2013, seeking enforcement of fundamental rights of disabled people.
The petition was moved by members of the Disability Movement in Pakistan who are striving for the welfare of the people with disabilities for the last many years.
The petitioners had pleaded before the court that millions of citizens were inflicted by various disabilities, but they were being denied their fundamental rights as guaranteed under the Constitution.
Orders departments concerned to facilitate them in jobs, transport, public places
In the post-18th Constitutional Amendment scenario, Justice Ahsan observed that subjects of population planning, social welfare and mental illness had been devolved to provinces.
Though some legislation had been carried out by Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan were still working on the requisite law, the judgement said.
Justice Ahsan noted that no reliable data was available on the incidence of disabilities in the country. However, the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund believed that 66 per cent of the people with disabilities lived in rural areas, and out of these, 28pc were illiterate, 14pc employed and 70pc dependent on their families for financial support.
Justice Ahsan also observed that there was a lack of coordination and cooperation between the centre and provinces in the implementation of laws related to the welfare of disabled persons.
He asked relevant governments to follow and implement in letter and spirit the provisions of laws concerning rehabilitation and employment of disabled persons.
The federal and provincial governments were also directed to ensure availability of a mechanism through which grievances of disabled people could be addressed and awareness campaigns should be initiated about the grievance redressal mechanism.
The judgement further said that the federal and provincial governments, Pemra, PTV and the Pakistan Broadcasting Association should create awareness by broadcasting public service programmes and messages. Similarly, the road transport authorities were directed to make public transport accessible to people with disabilities.
Likewise, Pakistan Railways was also asked to build proper ramps at railway stations for persons with disabilities while transport and development authorities had to ensure availability of accessible toilets at bus terminals, motorways and highways.
The transport and development authorities were also asked to arrange for the construction of ramps and ensure safe and reliable facilities for disabled people to board buses and trains.
The authorities concerned and agencies at the federal and provincial levels will also make appropriate arrangements for availability of accessible parking, washrooms and ramps at parks, malls and other public places.
All development authorities will ensure enforcement of quota in allotment of residential plots and houses as provided under relevant laws.
The apex court also ordered the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to periodically update and complete accurate figures and statistics about persons with disabilities in consultation with Nadra and other departments and agencies of the federal and provincial governments and upload information on their websites.
Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2020