LAHORE: The Lahore High Court has expressed concern over non-implementation of the recommendations made by a commission with regard to provision of free environment after making buildings and public facilities accessible to persons with disabilities (PWDs).

In an interim order issued in a public interest petition, Justice Jawad Hassan observes that under the rule of law, access to justice is provided to all citizens of this country and where a citizen cannot walk due to some disability, the courts are there to remove the hindrances being faced by the PWDs, especially the persons on wheelchairs.

He refers to a statement of Tammy Duckworth, a US Senator and the first woman with a disability elected to Congress, wherein she said, that “Don’t look at me with pity. I earned this wheelchair. I own this wheelchair. I am proud of it and I am going to use it to get places a hell a lot faster than you could ever run.”

The judge notes that the report of the commission speaks about the international framework on rights of the PWDs and the legislation made by the legislators of Pakistan on the issue. He observes that the Supreme Court and the LHC in different recent judgements also recognised fundamental rights of the PWDs and certain directions were issued to the relevant government authorities/departments to progressively build proper ramps for the PWDs and to ensure making transport accessible to them.

Justice Hassan sought a comprehensive report and para-wise comments from the government and the relevant departments by May 26 about steps taken for implementation of the commission’s recommendations.

The judge also directed petitioner Sana Khurshid, a lawyer and motivational speaker with disability, to appear before the director general of Lahore Development Authority on Saturday (today) and he will look into the matter, and file a separate report showing the steps, if any taken pursuant to the recommendations of the commission.

Senior lawyer Dr Pervez Hassan headed the commission comprising secretaries of the relevant departments of the government, lawyers and rights activists. The commission had been formed in the light of a direction issued by the LHC in 2017.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2021

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