LAHORE: The Lahore High Court has observed that the government should be sensitive to the needs of the citizens with disabilities and make its policies more accommodative to them.

Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh notes that Pakistan ratified core international human rights treaties/conventions that cover diverse areas, including civil and political rights, the rights of children, women and persons with disabilities.

He observes that the general rule is that the provisions of a treaty are not automatically incorporated into municipal law and a country’s legislature must enact law to implement them.

In Pakistan, the judge says, even where such legislation has not been passed, the courts are required to interpret and apply every statute, as far as its language admits, in accordance with the principle of comity of nations and established rules of international law.

Issues verdict on visually challenged teacher’s plea against refusal of transfer under wedlock policy

Justice Sheikh observes, “Our Constitution does not distinguish between the persons having disabilities and others.”

These observations have been made in a verdict issued on a petition filed by a visually challenged woman teacher against refusal of her transfer under the wedlock policy.

Petitioner Amna Arshad and her husband Abdul Haseeb Amin are visually impaired persons.

The petitioner was appointed as senior special education teacher (visually impaired field) in BS-17 on a five-year contract in 2020 and posted at the Government Special Education Centre, Phalia, Mandi Bahauddin district.

On the other hand, her husband Amin is serving as Naib Qasid (BS-1) and is presently posted in the finance department, Punjab Civil Secretariat, Lahore.

The petitioner applied to the secretary special education for her transfer to Lahore against a vacancy but he did not attend to her request.

The counsel for the petitioner contended that the secretary passed the impugned order without considering the relevant law and facts. He said the wedlock policy entitled the petitioner to be transferred and posted at the same station as her husband.

Further, he said, the petitioner was a special person and clause 10(b) of her contract contained a specific stipulation that the competent authority shall allow one-time transfer during five years as a special dispensation and a woman employee may be allowed an additional chance of transfer to the place of residence of her husband.

On the court’s direction, the Punjab chief secretary submitted a report saying some amendments have been proposed to the Transfer Policy 2020. The proposed amendments include an increase in points/marks for wedlock from 15 to 20 and an increase from 20 to 30 in points for disability.

The chief secretary told the court that the proposed amendments had been submitted to the chief minister for approval.

He said the administrative department had been directed that if delay was anticipated in the approval of the proposed amendments, an order of the chief minister may be sought for relaxation of policy and ban on transfer so that the petitioner’s case may be reconsidered.

Justice Sheikh observes that the case in hand illustrates how the government is failing in its duty.

He regrets that the authorities did not realise that the transfer policy should be more accommodative until this court expressed concern.

“Anyway, since the matter is now before the chief minister, I would direct him to consider the above-mentioned proposals expeditiously, including those which specifically relate to the petitioner, the judge concludes disposing of the petition.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2022

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