Punjab bringing law for special-needs persons

Picture source -devpakblog.com

The Punjab government is all set to introduce “The Punjab Empowerment of the Persons with Different Abilities Bill, 2021” for the protection of and provision of basic rights to differently-abled persons, a report submitted before the Lahore High Court revealed on Friday.

Punjab Welfare, Baitul Maal and special education secretary submitted the report to the Lahore High Court. According to it, the provincial government has constituted a sub-committee comprising Assistant Attorney General Sadia Malik, Advocate Ali Rasheed Chughtai, Khwaja Isaam Bin Haris, Ali Awais, Barrister Maryam Hayat and Haris Jalil, director and law officers of the Punjab Social Welfare, Baitul Maal and Special Education to fine-tune the draft legislation.

The purpose of the draft bill is to ensure the rights of the special persons, including those visually impaired. The announcement from the Punjab government came at a moment when the visually impaired persons have been staging protests for the last four days and had blocked Mall Road in front of the Punjab Assembly for their rights and demands.

The Punjab government, in its report, gave an undertaking that the special persons would be provided jobs, security and protection of basic rights, including health and education. Under the proposed law, they would be provided special seats in public transport vehicles, access to all forms of mass communication, including information technology.

The special persons will have right to live independently in the community, right to home and family, right to political participation, participation in sports, cultural and recreational activities, right to inherit and own property, protection in disastrous situations, right to certification under the draft law. Punjab Minister for Social Welfare and Treasury Syed Yawar Abbas Bukhari, who appeared before the court in the same matter, stated at a press conference later at the Lahore Press Club that by drafting a new comprehensive law for the special persons, Punjab government has paved the way for a silent revolution.

The minister said, “Last year, 789 special persons were employed across the province; 324 special persons on daily wages have also been regularized so far,” he said. “The new law has been prepared in the light of the directions of the Lahore High Court and the court has appreciated this initiative,” the minister said while adding that the new law for special persons would be passed by the Punjab Assembly by November 8.

Fida Hussnain is a correspondent covering judiciary, politics, business and health issues. He is also a feature writer and researcher with major work on freedom of press in Pakistan. He tweets @fidahassanain and can be reached at fidahassanain@gmail.com.