24 January 2023
By Rehan Piracha
The Supreme Court has reaffirmed that the reserved job quotas for minorities and persons with disabilities (PWDs) are their constitutional right and cannot be reversed or made available to other citizens.
Mubarik Ali Babar, the petitioner, also sought allocation of the seats reserved against the special quota for minorities and persons with disabilities (PWDs) to general candidates if the quota remains unfilled in a particular year.
“The marginalization and discrimination experienced by PWDs is arguably considered to be similar to the apartheid system in terms of segregation and discrimination based on a particular characteristic, leading to limited access to education, employment, and other opportunities, as well as social and economic marginalization, thereby, marginalizing individuals and communities.”
Referring to the use of the word ‘minorities’ in the Constitution, the Supreme Court said the word minorities only signified the numerical strength of non-Muslims who were entitled all fundamental rights as enjoyed by other citizens in the country. “The word “minorities” on the other hand, signifies merely a statistical number, representing a class of people in the country who are Non-Muslims and in no manner does it imply that they are lesser citizens or in any manner less entitled to the fundamental rights under the Constitution.”
The SC bench agreed with the recommendations given in the report titled “Unequal Citizens, Ending Systemic Discrimination against Minorities” published in May 2022, by the National Commission of Human Rights (NCHR). The court expressed concern over government department advertisements recruiting religious minorities exclusively for sanitary work. The bench also cited speech of Quaid-e-Azam’s speech reaffirming safeguarding of the rights of all minorities and that all citizens of Pakistan are equal and had equal rights irrespective of their religion, colour, caste or creed.