Petition challenges LHC’s disabled-friendly image

A disabled man has filed a writ petition after he was denied a job at the Lahore High Court.

Rana Tanveer September 11, 2010

LAHORE: A disabled man has filed a writ petition after he was denied a job at the Lahore High Court and told that the law providing for a two per cent job quota did not apply there.

The petition is likely to be an embarrassment to Chief Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif, who has initiated a series of disabled-friendly measures at the LHC premises and previously taken suo motu notice of the non-implementation of the quota for the disabled.

Muhammad Riaz filed the petition saying that he applied for the post of naib qasid (daftri), or peon, at the LHC and actually received a call letter from the LHC authorities. But when he went to the court for the interview, he was told the quota for the disabled did not apply for employment at the LHC because it is an autonomous body.

Riaz said this was a violation of his rights and the authorities broke the law in denying him the job. He said the post for which he applied was still vacant and the authorities should be directed to give him the job.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan took up the petition on Thursday and directed Riaz’s lawyer to give argue why the job quota for the disabled was applicable in the LHC. The judge then put off the hearing. The LHC office will set a date for the hearing after Eid.

The petition named the LHC registrar as the respondent in the case.

Dr Khalid Jameel, chairman of the Pakistan Disability Council, told The Express Tribune that the quota was not only applicable in government departments but also in private organisations.

“And the quota not only applies in newly announced jobs, but to the total staff strength at the Lahore High Court,” he said.

Dr Jameel, known as Big Brother for his work with the disabled, said government departments sometimes deprived the disabled of their quotas by selecting a number less than 50 when announcing new seats.

“They usually announce 15 or 30 seats,” he said. This way, they can argue that since two per cent of 30 is less than one, the disabled are not due any seat. “This is not right and the disabled quota in all departments should be calculated based on the total number of employees in those departments,” he said.

Muhammad Pervaiz Malik, convener of the Lahore Businessmen’s Association for Rehabilitation of the Disabled, was confident that the LHC would right the situation. “The chief justice has taken several steps to facilitate the disabled. How can he himself curb their rights?” he said.

In July 2009, Chief Justice Sharif took suo motu notice of non-implementation of the disabled quota, shortly after he was the chief guest at a ceremony for the Most Caring Families Award organised by Punjab Welfare for the Disabled.

On July 7, 2009, Deputy Attorney General Iqbal Gilani told the court that the federal government had hired 1,386 disabled people and was planning to hire 800 more.

The Punjab Social Welfare director told the chief justice that committees had been formed to recruit disabled people in 31 districts of the province and that such committees would be formed in the remaining districts soon.

The chief justice also initiated a special project to make the LHC building more accessible to the disabled.

Four ramps were built so people in wheelchairs could get to the courtrooms and a lift is currently being installed in the building.

On March 21, 2010, the chief justice issued instructions to all district and sessions judges in Punjab and Islamabad to help handicapped people get into courtrooms for hearings.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2010.

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