SC orders expansion of disability quota

Top court also outlines correct words to use for ‘persons with disabilities’

Hasnaat Malik August 14, 2020
Supreme Court noted that the govt was bound to provide infrastructure and facilities to persons with disabilities. PHOTO: AFP/FILE


In another landmark judgment, the Supreme Court has held that “disabled”, “physically handicapped”, "mentally retarded" and other similar words deeply bruised and offended human dignity of persons with different abilities.

The court has also directed the federal government and provincial governments to discontinue the use of these words in official correspondence, directives, notifications and circulars and shift to “persons with disabilities” or “persons with different abilities”.

The apex court further held that disability quota was to be calculated on the basis of the total sanctioned posts of the establishment.

"In order to ensure fair and equitable representation of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in every tier of the establishment, the total disability quota is to be further apportioned and allocated amongst different categories of posts in the establishment,” read a 12-page judgment authored by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah on the allocation of job quota for persons with disabilities

The determination of different categories is on the basis of their distinct qualifications, selection criteria and separate merit list.

The court held that in case the sanctioned strength of a post was less than 50, it will would for the establishment to allocate seat(s) from the overall disability quota against it.

If a particular post is not fit for a PWD, the establishment could shift the disability quota and adjust it against another post in the establishment so that the overall quota was not disturbed and maintained at all times.

The advertisement for any category of post must clearly provide the total disability quota for that category of posts and the number of seats vacant under the quota at the time of the advertisement.

A three-member bench headed by Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik announced the verdict in a petition filed by Malik Ubaidullah, who was not appointed to the post of the senior elementary school educator (Arabic) despite applying on the disability quota following an advertisement put out by the education department, local government, Multan.

The apex court noted that the legal question that arose in the case was the manner of allocation of the 2% disability quota for employment under the Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance, 1981.

The judgment noted that one of the major difficulties faced by persons with disabilities was that employers had the erroneous assumption that these people would underperform in most areas of their duties -- which was actually not the case.  Another plausible issue is that when the majority of workplaces were not made accessible to people with disabilities, employers felt that they would have to make an unwarranted investment to provide facilities to them. Some did not believe in the employment potential of such people.

The court noted that the government and the concerned establishment were bound to provide the infrastructure, access, support, and facilities, so that persons with disabilities, once appointed to a post, could perform their job without feeling physically or emotionally incapacitated in any manner. “The biggest barrier to the employment of persons with disabilities is the accessibility and their social acceptability at the workplace.”

The court noted that without making this possible, the disability quota and the purpose of the ordinance would stand frustrated and serve no useful purpose.


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