KARACHI: The Sindh governor on Tuesday promulgated an ordinance amending the Sindh Civil Servants Act, 1973 and empowering the chief minister to appoint retired and federal officials and give out-of-turn promotions in an apparent preemptive move to protect the more than 50 senior police officers whose professional career is being questioned by the Supreme Court, which has granted the government a last chance to review the cases within three days.
With the new promulgation in place, analysts say the Sindh chief secretary may find a plea when he appears before the apex court on Thursday and refer to the amended ordinance under which he is no longer mandated the task that now falls under the chief minister’s authority.
“Ordinance called the Sindh Civil Servants (Amendment) Ordinance, 2012 shall come into force at once,” said the draft of the ordinance, elaborating amendment to different clauses. Among others, critics see the amendment to Section 9-A of the ordinance as crucial, which came under a detailed discussion during the recent hearing by the Supreme Court regarding the non-implementation of a court order in out-of-turn promotion cases in the police department.
“In the said Act, for Section 9-A, the following shall be substituted,” said the amended ordinance draft, adding: “9-A. Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act or any other law for the time being in force or any judgment of any court, a civil servant who proves and exhibits the act of gallantry while performing his duties or very exceptional performance beyond the call of duty, may be granted out of turn promotion or award or reward by the government (CM).”
The Supreme Court said on Monday that the chief secretary and the acting chief of the Sindh police had completely failed to satisfy the court over the delay in implementing the verdict on out-of-turn promotions in the police department, and granted them a last chance to review the cases of the 56 officers within three days.
Promotions were given to dozens of policemen as a reward for gallantry under Section 9-A of the Sindh Civil Servants Act, 1973, mainly in 2002. The officers were accused of receiving “shoulder promotions” out of favouritism and in violation of the law. Though the police authorities reverted more than 5,000 officers in compliance with the court orders, the SC directed the chief secretary to review within three days the cases of the remaining 56 officers now serving in grades above grade 17 of the basic pay scale.
Apart from the out-of-turn promotions, it appears that the provincial government has tried to protect the interests of those federal government servants whose services were transferred to the Sindh government as this trend off and on comes under question from both by the judiciary and senior officials.
“In the said Act, after Section 10, the following new section shall be inserted,” it said, adding: “10-A. (1) notwithstanding anything contained in this Act or any law in force or any judgment of any court, the government (CM) shall have and shall be deemed to always have had the power to appoint any person on a deputation basis, who is a civil servant as defined in this Act or the Federal Civil Servants Act 1973 or is in the service of the Federal Government or autonomous, semi-autonomous body, corporation or any organisation set up, established, owned, controlled or managed by the government or as the case may be the Federal Government against any post, in any cadre, in the civil service of the province or in connection with the affairs of the province.”
The amendment also allows the government to induct retired officials at any position in the provincial organisational structure, though it does not define any reason for such immediate and lengthy amendments in the key services ordinance.
“In the said Act, in section 14, after sub-section (2), the following new sub-section shall be added,” said the draft, adding: “(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act or any law in force or any judgment of any court, the government (CM) shall have and shall be deemed to always have had the power to appoint any retired civil servant, whose service, in view of his expertise, are required by the government in the public interest, for a period as deemed appropriate by the government (CM).”