ISLAMABAD - Supreme Court on Monday summoned secretary establishment and all chief secretaries in a case pertaining to rights of persons with disabilities.

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed heading a two-judge bench remarked that the case will be heard on December 3, the International Day of Disabled Persons.

The bench also termed the reports of provinces submitted regarding the implementation of PWDs’ rights an eyewash.

It observed that the federal government and provincial governments were deliberately delaying the matters relating to rights of challenged persons, adding that this court was custodian of fundamental rights of citizens of Pakistan including the physically challenged persons.

The Additional Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti informed the bench that Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan governments had submitted their compliance reports along with the affidavits while no report had so far been submitted by the Sindh government.

Justice Saeed remarked that all the reports were generalised in nature and the top court’s November 18 order had not been complied with.

To apprise the top court regarding existing legal framework dealing with the rights, welfare and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities and the progress done by the Punjab government, Assistant Advocate General Punjab Tariq Mehmood Butt submitted that The Disabled Persons’ (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance was promulgated in 1981. After the 18th Amendment, the necessary amendments were incorporated with the ordinance of 1981.

He submitted that report stating the people with disabilities who were assessed and declared as disabled by district assessment boards (DABs) and provincial assessing committee (PAC) became entitled to receive benefits through financial help, job placement against 3 per cent disabled quota/ education/ study and other purposes including skill training.

“To date 1,89,312 persons with disabilities have been registered by the Social Welfare & Baitul Maal Department,” it added. “In addition to that, the Social Welfare and Baitul Maal Department has also started fresh registration and assessment/verification process for visually impaired persons in Punjab. In this exercise 19,711 visually impaired persons have been assessed so far,” the report said.

It added that for imparting skills, certain skill training courses for PWDs through TEVTA, PVTC and NGOs were underway. TEVTA and PVTC indentified the training course including computer application, mobile phone repairing, motor winding, cooking & baking, spoken English & Arabic, call centre representative, knitting cane chairs and candle making for visually impaired persons.

“On application, skilled persons with disabilities are being referred to Akhuwat for micro loaning to generate self-employment. To date 3,057 PWDs have benefited by Akhuwat initiative,” the report stated.

It further said, “Social Protection Authority has given Khidmat card to more than 80,000 PWDs and age has also been relaxed up to 10 years in the upper age limit of PWDs for entering into government service while the PPSC has also waived off the admission fee for persons with disabilities while applying for job.”

“A helper is allowed to sit in competitive exams with blind applicants. There is no age limit for taking admission in any educational institute of Punjab while all educational charges including tuition fee, hostel fee and utility charges have been waived for PWDs including visually impaired persons.”

The report further stated that one seat is reserved for admission in higher education and on admission in public university, a laptop is awarded to PWDs as an incentive and wheel chair is provided on passing out from university. “Punjab Baitul Maal reserved 10 per cent quota for annual financial grant for persons with disabilities. Zakat and Ushar Department is offering Guzara Allowance 1000 per month.”

The special cell constituted in Social Welfare Department, for implementation of three per cent quota of jobs in all government departments, the report added. “To date, 4,294 posts (BS 1-4) have been advertised under all departments and districts against these 3,988 disabled individuals have been recruited. The disability profile of recruited individuals reveals that 2,947 (74 per cent) are physically disabled, 690 (17 per cent) are visually impaired while 351 (9 per cent) are hearing impaired.”

“With a total cost of Rs99.98 million, the Punjab government has also approved an ADP scheme namely ‘Disabled Persons Management Information System’ for online registration and assessment of persons with disabilities by offering them opportunity for online submission of their applications and tracking the progress made on their application and providing information like assessment boards, meetings and delivering registration certificate at their doorstep.”

KP’s law officer Zahid Qureshi submitted the report stating that the provincial information department haS been advised not to float any advertisement of vacant posts of the department unless the provision of 2 per cent quota for disabled has not been reserved, adding that all the heads of administrative departments had been advised to fulfil the requirement under 2 per cent reserved quota.

The report added that the Department of Social Welfare had established 41 special education schools for children with disabilities and imparting primary and secondary education to children of all types of disabilities.

The report further stated that draft bill namely ‘Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Rights, Rehabilitation & Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Act 2018’ is under consideration and it will soon be presented to the provincial assembly for discussion and approval.

Justice Saeed observed that the affidavits of provinces were not acceptable as these did not contain the required information sought by the court.

Another Additional Attorney General Amir Rehman informed the bench that Ministry of CADD had been abolished and education ministry was now looking the matters regarding to physically challenged persons.

Justice Saeed remarked that the country was far behind than rest of the world in terms of legal framework regarding physically challenged persons and the existing laws in this regard were not being implemented.