The Lahore High Court has ruled that a visually-impaired person can be appointed a teacher and “persons with different abilities” are eligible to be recruited on open merit in addition to the quota reserved for the disabled.
Through a judgement on the petition of a visually-impaired person on Wednesday, Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah also declared unconstitutional the Punjab government’s recruitment policy on the disabled persons’ quota and directed the officials to frame it afresh.
Hafiz Junaid Mahmood had challenged the recruitment policy after being denied job of senior elementary school educator (SESE) on open merit.
The petitioner pleaded that the definition of a disabled person in the recruitment policy was against the definition of a disabled person as given in section 2(c) of the Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance, 1981. He stated that he was entitled to be considered on open merit on a par with other candidates and in addition to that a person with disabilities enjoyed a three per cent special quota under section 10 of the ordinance.
A visually-impaired person can be a teacher, it rules
Lawyers of the provincial and local governments argued that it was not possible for a blind teacher to “control the class” or maintain discipline, therefore, the petitioner was not eligible to apply for the said post. They further said a blind person was not eligible to apply for the post of teacher because he could not write on a blackboard.
They said the right of the petitioner to seek employment had to be proportionately balanced with the rights of the children to get proper education, which is the dominant right. They also challenged the maintainability of the petition saying courts could not interfere in policy matters. The chief justice rejected this argument.
Justice Shah observed, “Policy is, generally, a guideline for the internal working of the government, however, if the policy impinges upon the fundamental rights of a citizen, it can be judicially reviewed, like any other legislation or executive action.”
The chief justice further observed that right to life, dignity and equality mandated that the state and its organs make serious endeavours to provide reasonable accommodation to persons with disabilities so that they could be mainstreamed and made useful and productive members of society.
“The impugned recruitment policy is devoid of any such thought or realization. It lacks openness, inclusiveness and accessibility for persons with disabilities,” Justice Shah observed in the verdict.
The chief justice ruled that the three per cent quota under the ordinance was an additional benefit and did not restrict a person with disabilities to apply for the general quota.
“To restrict persons with disabilities to a limited quota of 3 per cent which may or may not be available, depending upon the sanctioned posts, will amount to depriving equal accessibility and opportunity to the persons with disabilities and offend Article 25 of the Constitution,” the chief justice held.
Striking down Section 4D of the recruitment policy, the chief justice directed the government to consider the candidacy of the petitioner against the post of the teacher on open merit and, if need be, against the additional three per cent quota for persons with disabilities. The chief justice gave one-month time to the government for compliance of the order.
Read More: Dawn