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Pakistan Print 2023-01-15

Fundamental rights: SC asks Railways to revisit its ‘personnel manual’

  • Court says a decision should be taken to meet the international standards when dealing with persons with disabilities
Published January 15, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court directed Pakistan Railways to revisit its “Personnel Manual” in light of the fundamental rights and principles of policy enshrined in the Constitution, as well as, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in order to meet the international standards when dealing with persons with disabilities.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and comprising Justice Ayesha A Malik and Justice Athar Minallah ordered that in an appeal of Divisional Superintendent, Pakistan Railways against the judgment of Federal Service Tribunal, Islamabad.

Umar Daraz (respondent) was appointed as points-man in BS-5 by the Pakistan Railways in 2001. During his service he was incapacitated and suffered from visual impairment and was declared unfit to serve as a points-man.

The respondent was adjusted to a lower grade of BS-3 against which he filed an appeal before the Federal Service Tribunal, which considering the clauses of Pakistan Railways Personnel Manual moved the respondent to an equivalent grade of BS-5 against the post of Ticket Collector Grade-I (TCR).

Pakistan Railways (petitioner) challenged the Tribunal’s verdict before the apex court on the ground that the post of TCR is a selection post and the respondent had to go through the process of promotion to be entitled to the said post.

The Supreme Court’s judgment noted that according to the Pakistan Railways’ Personnel Manual if an officer in service is incapacitated he is to be adjusted to another post which is most suitable and appropriate keeping in view the degree and level of his incapacitation.

The Court said it is important that in case an officer develops physical incapacitation the department has to reach out to the said officer to ensure the best possible option available for the officer in his condition to continue to serve the department.

The said transfer to another suitable post of the respondent is as a special case and is over and above the regular process of transfer, appointment or promotion. Such a special transfer is to provide “reasonable accommodation” to an employee who has been incapacitated during service and for no fault of his own suffers from a disability. Any such “reasonable accommodation” is a priority action item for the department and must be addressed at the earliest. Suitability of the new post must factor in the earlier job description, as well as, the grade so that the employee is not worse off in financial terms.

Article 27 of CRPD provides that the work and employment of a person suffering from disability must be protected and reasonable accommodation required to make the said adjustment must be ensured by the State. The said article; “prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability” concerning “all forms of employment” including “continuance of employment, career advancement and safe and healthy working conditions”.

Article 9 and 38(d) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan provides for the right to life, including right to a meaningful livelihood as an integral part of life and policies must be made by the State to safeguard the interest of persons suffering from infirmity or sickness.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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