ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has ordered the federal and the provincial governments to ensure provision of fundamental rights to disabled persons across the country by employing them in line with regional quotas and providing them with residential plots and houses. The verdict also directed the governments to facilitate them in transport and at public places by building ramps and ensuring other related facilities.
The judgment was announced on a petition filed in the Supreme Court in 2013, seeking enforcement of fundamental rights of the disabled people. The bench was headed by CJP Justice Gulzar Ahmad and comprised Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan authored the 11-page verdict directing the federal and provincial governments to advertise vacant posts falling in the employment quota of the disabled and ensure successful candidates were appointed against regional quotas of the areas they belonged to. The petition was moved by members of the Disability Movement in Pakistan. The petitioners through their lawyers Raheel Kamran Shaikh and others pleaded that millions of disabled were being denied their fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
The verdict directed all development authorities to ensure enforcement of quota in allotment of residential plots and houses as provided under relevant laws. Drawing attention towards the the Accessibility Code 2006, the federal and provincial governments and development authorities were directed to ensure its enforcement. The road transport authorities were directed to make public transport and railways accessible for the disabled.
The Pakistan Railways was asked to build proper ramps at railways stations, accessible toilets at bus terminals, motorways and highways. They were also told to construct ramps and ensure safe and reliable facilities for the disabled people to board buses and trains.
The federal and provincial governments must make arrangements for accessible parking, washrooms and ramps at parks, malls and other public places. Justice Ahsan also observed that there was a lack of coordination and cooperation between the Centre and the provinces in the implementation of laws related to the welfare of the handicapped. In the post-18th Constitutional Amendment scenario, Justice Ahsan observed that population planning, social welfare and mental illness were devolved to provinces.
The Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had made some headway in legislation, but Sindh and Balochistan were still working on the requisite law, the judgment said. He asked the relevant governments to follow and implement the laws concerning their rehabilitation and employment.
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.
The SC also ordered the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to periodically update and complete accurate figures and statistics about the handicapped. The judgment directed the federal and provincial governments, Pemra, PTV and the Pakistan Broadcasting Association to create awareness by broadcasting public service programmes and messages.