KARACHI: The Sindh High Court expressed resentment with the provincial authorities for an inordinate delay in implementation of a law enacted for senior citizens despite repeated orders and directed the Sindh chief secretary to appear on May 5.

The two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar deplored that in the face of clear directives issued earlier, neither rules had been framed yet, nor Azadi cards were issued to senior citizens.

When the bench took up a petition seeking proper enforcement of the Sindh Senior Citizens Welfare Act, 2014, the lawyer for the petitioner argued that despite lapse of a considerable period from the inception of the act as well as the directions of this court, no action had been taken so far.

The bench observed that the petition was basically pertaining to the implementation of the act in view of the judgement passed by a divisional bench of the SHC in 2019.

It further noted that in order to effectively implement the law, the most important aspect was to issue Azadi cards to senior citizens residing in the province.

The bench said that on last hearing, it had asked the secretary of social welfare department and acting chairperson senior citizen council to be in attendance.

‘All private hospitals are bound to provide 25pc concession to senior citizens under the act’

Although the secretary turned up, the acting chairperson could not appear since she has said to have undergone eye surgery recently.

The secretary of social welfare department placed on record a copy of a letter issued by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) to a section officer of the department to show that in order to integrate Azadi cards with Nadra website a Nadra team was working on it and a detailed proposal will be submitted to the social welfare department.

However, the bench observed that in fact in its judgement issued in 2019, the SHC had directed the chief secretary to convene a meeting with director general of Nadra for making necessary provision so that requisite data may be supplied to the council for issuance of Azadi cards to senior citizens and further directions to convene the meeting within 15 days and the process of cards be started within one month.

However, the bench said that neither any arrangement has been made by Nadra, nor Azadi cards have been issued so far and the secretary of social welfare department has again requested for more time which was totally unjustified.

The earlier order has also reflected that director of social welfare department clearly stated that for framing rules under Section 19 of the act a meeting was convened and the draft rules have been submitted, it added.

However, the bench further noted that still the rules have not been framed which was again another non-compliance of the order.

The secretary of social welfare submitted that the draft rules were at approval stage with the law department.

The bench directed the chief secretary to appear in person on May 5 and inform it why the matter was being delayed.

A NGO moved the SHC and submitted that all the private hospitals and medical centres were bound to provide 25 per cent concession to senior citizens under the act, but private hospitals were not providing such concession to senior citizens and pleaded for implementation of the law in letter and spirit.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2021

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