ISLAMABAD -  The Supreme Court upholding the Lahore High Court (LHC) order has directed the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to count disabled persons and eunuchs in the ongoing population census.

The court also directed the PBS to implement the LHC order passed on March 15.

The LHC had directed the bureau to ensure that the population census had a special column for persons with disabilities along with their categories. The high court had maintained that the code/number can easily be inserted in the machine readable form with a slight modification in the software and the column pertaining to ‘sex’ would now include ‘sex/disability’. This mechanism would help collect information regarding the persons with disabilities, as well as, their gender, the LHC order had said.

The PBS census commissioner told the apex court that the field staff have been ordered to insert/include code number-3 for transgender, code 4 for a male with a disability, code 5 for the female with disability and code number 6 for transgender with disability in column no-3 of the census form.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heading a three-member bench heard petitions of six disabled persons seeking directives to the departments concerned to ensure collection of necessary data on the incidence of disability.

At the outset of the hearing, the chief justice inquired from the PBS chief what steps have been taken to include disabled persons in the census, adding whether the disabled data would be collected?

PBS Chief Asif Bajwa said that three months after the population census, a green form will be used to collect the data of disabled persons.

The chief justice asked what compulsion was it that green and pink forms were not used together. He said that this data is collected in the census all over the world. Bajwa said that the services of the armed forces were available to the PBS only for 10 days. He said that due to the shortage of manpower and time, all data could not be collected in one go.

The chief justice observed: “Now you are telling the problem when the census has already begun”.

Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan asked why a column for eunuchs was not included in the census form. The commissioner said that the court had given judgment in this regard in 2012, while the forms were published in 2007.

The chief justice asked when the court had ordered then why new forms were not published. He said that the PBS should have no objection if the eunuchs and disabled were counted in the ongoing census, but now your problem was that the forms have already been printed and now it was the issue of the audit.

The chief justice said that the census form should have been printed in accordance with the circumstances. “If the new form had been printed, this issued would have been resolved.”

The PBS chief said that the data of disabled persons would be collected in September and October.

After hearing the arguments the bench disposed of the case.