Recently the Supreme Court stood up for the rights of one of the most underrepresented and marginalised segments of our country, people with disabilities, and in the process made remarkable law as well. The Supreme Court has ruled that under the federal and provincial laws, adherence to disability job quota extends to both public and private sectors. The three-judge SC bench, headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, explained that the private sector would also have to adhere to the 3% job quota that is enforced in the public sector and compensate to the concerned social welfare funds in the absence of such recruitments, as are the conditions stipulated for government-based employment institutions.

In any other country, this would certainly be a note-worthy judgment. The debate over how much control and regulations should the State enforce over private institutions is a controversial one. In all ways, this judgment should have been impactful and would have brought hope that we will see much more representation and employment opportunities for disabled people. Yet, in Pakistan, where we hardly see disabled people in employment in government institutions, where a quota has existed for years, it is difficult to be hopeful about the positive effects this new ruling will have.

It is not as if the disabled community has not championed for their rights- indeed, the disabled community has organised many grassroots protests and campaigns to increase and implement the employment quota in government jobs. While the quota might have been increased in 2018, we see little of this policy in practice.

While it is commended that the SC is taking a stand and enhancing disability rights, we urge the Court and the government to also work upon implementing the policies that are in place and increase disability representation in all sectors of public life.