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PBS to include disabled,transgender in Census: SC

17 March, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to include disabled and transgender people in the National Population Census 2017. The court also maintained a part of the Lahore High Court (LHC) verdict dated March 15.

The LHC had directed the PBS to immediately issue instructions to the field staff to insert the codes for disabled people, required in column 3 of the form.

"Having a general head count of persons with disabilities is far more important than not having any information at all," the LHC had observed while passing the orders.

Now a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar upheld the order and directed the bureau to amend the form.

"The Form should have been prepared in accordance with need of the day. Had the new Form been prepared, the problems would not have occurred," the CJP observed.

He said this when PBS official Asif Bajwa told the court that pattern of the form was old as that of the census carried out in 1998.

During the hearing, Deputy Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti and appellant Raheel Kamran also appeared. Bajwa told the court that Form 2-A was being used in the current exercise while after three months of census a separate 'green form' would be used to collect data about disabled and transgender people.

The army personnel are available for 10 days so entire data cannot be collected at once, the official said. "You are listing all the impediments after the census has begun," the chief justice observed. Justice Ijazul Ahsan, member of the bench, asked, "Why the column for transgender was not included in census form?"

Bajwa responded that the court had given the decision regarding inclusion of transgender people in 2012 while the forms had been printed in 2007.

Kamran, the petitioner, contended that lack of disabled persons' data was the greatest hindrance in ensuring the effectiveness of any law or policy intended to assist such persons adding that the lawmakers as well as the administrative functionaries continued to work with outdated figures and were unaware of the number of people who needed specific intervention, treatment, training and rehabilitation.

He contended that the data regarding the identification of persons with disability, documentation of impairments and categorizations of the types, causes, duration and severity of the disability was crucial to gauging the specific needs of such persons.

Kamran's application stated that the most recent official data available with regard to persons with disabilities was figures collected through the 1998 census, which held that persons with disabilities are around 2.5 percent of the total population.

The application further stated that the World Health Organization had estimated the incidence of disability to be around 7 percent in 2011. The World Disability Report 2011, jointly prepared by the WHO and the World Bank, derived its disability estimates from a World Heath Survey conducted between 2002 and 2004 and found a disability prevalence of 13.4 percent for Pakistan.

"If the census had to be conducted, it should have been executed in a proper manner," the chief justice regretted, adding that forms had not been prepared according to current needs.

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