PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government needs to remove certain anomalies from civil service matters pointed out in a Supreme Court’s decision failing to which will amount to the court’s contempt, according to officials.
The provincial government has yet to act to implement the court’s instructions vis-à-vis the absorption of employees from one civil service to another, requiring some essential corrective measures, according to official sources.
“There does not seem to be any movement on the part of the provincial bureaucracy,” said an official.
The Establishment Division, Islamabad, in January this year asked all the provincial governments to follow the Supreme Court’s decision and streamline the service structure of the civil servants, according to an official document.
The four provincial chief secretaries, their counterparts from Gilgit-Baltistan and the government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir have been directed, under the Establishment Division’s letter, to implement the court’s June 12, 2013 order.
The letter mentions the practices that the court has declared illegal and asks for the provincial governments’ compliance with the guidelines and principles set out under the judgment.
However, according to well placed officials, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has not yet taken a substantive move to undo the illegalities it inherited.
The government has, however, dispatched the copies of the federal government’s letter to the provincial departments, but at the provincial establishment department’s level, measures have yet to come in an effort to rectify the situation.The non-compliance in the longer run could render the provincial government to face a contempt of court case.
“If any of the aggrieved or affected from among the civil servants moves the Supreme Court for the non-compliance of its instructions, this could lead to initiate contempt proceedings against the provincial government,” said an official familiar with the rule and regulations.
The previous provincial government, led by Awami National Party absorbed some employees from the non-competitive services to the competitive Provincial Management Service (PMS) Group. The move caused unrest among the PMS Group officers and some of the disgruntled officers went to the court to seek justice.
Before the ANP government, the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal led provincial government, too, has a history of absorbing employees from a project to the civil service. The matter is being investigated at present, according to an official privy to the matter.
The Supreme Court’s judgment, according to the Establishment Division’s letter, has come clear against the practice of absorbing of employees from one service to another, terming it wrong.
“Benefit of ‘absorption’ extended since 1994, with or without backdated seniority, are declared ultra virus of the Constitution,” the court declared, according to the federal government’s letter to the chief secretaries.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has some known cases of public servants who used their political clout to switch over to the competitive PMS Group to be able to get field/lucrative postings.
Some of these cases have also been written about in Dawn. Those who wrongly got absorbed in the PMS Group include the brother of a religio-political party head, who switched to PMS from PTCL.
Then there is the scion of a Pashto newspaper owner from Peshawar who got himself absorbed in the PMS Group after being inducted into the provincial government as a grade-16 information officer. In another example, the son-in-law of a Pakhtun nationalist party’s former chief also got himself absorbed in the PMS Group.
The ex-information officer is the deputy commissioner of a southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa district whereas the other two also hold important posts, according to officials.
However, they are not the only ones who have been absorbed in the PMS cadre to the dismay of the PMS-officers. According to an affected officer, there are some 38 other officers from the Secretariat Group of the provincial civil service, who have also been absorbed in the PMS Group.
“The provincial civil service group officers were absorbed in the PMS Group (which was put in place following the establishment of devolution of power plan in 2001) in line with a decision of the Peshawar High Court,” said an officer.
Later, the Supreme Court on May 24, 2012, deciding appeals by PCS officers of the Executive Group, revived their service structure (Executive Group), directing the provincial government to exclude them from the PMS Group.
“Those (officers of the Secretariat Group) who find PMS to their advantage join it and those (executive group officers) who disregard it as disadvantageous to them they went back to their old service structure,” said a PMS-officer, terming it as PMS-officer’s predicament.
He said the absorption of the Secretariat Group’s officers and the other three officers whose services had wrongly been absorbed in the PMS Group had disturbed the PMS-officers’ seniority.
The PMS-officers’ stand stood validated, said one of the officers, after the Supreme Court ordered in the June 2013 judgment that “any backdated seniority cannot be granted to any ‘absorbee’ and his inter-se-seniority, on absorption in the cadre shall be maintained at the bottom as provided under the Rules regulating the seniority.”
Similarly, the court further held that, “a civil servant, who after passing the competitive exam in terms of the recruitment rules, is appointed on merits, loses his right to be considered for promotion, when an employee from any other organisation is absorbed without competing or undertaking competitive process with the backdated seniority and is conferred the status of a civil servant in complete disregard of recruitment rules.”
It added that: “the absorption and out of turn promotion will also impinge on the self respect and dignity of the civil servants, who will be forced to work under their rapidly and unduly promoted fellow officers, those who have been inducted from other services / cadres regardless of their (inductees) merit and results in the competitive exams (if they have appeared for exam at all), hence are violative of Article 14 of the Constitution”.
A senior government functionary, when contacted, conceded that in view of the Supreme Court’s decision, the backdated seniority of the Secretariat Group’s officers absorbed in the PMS Group would become null and void.
Similarly, the three employees who have been absorbed in the PMS Group by using their political influence should immediately be returned to their services and the money paid to them as salary against the senior administrative posts needs to be recovered from them in line of the rules regulating the civil servants.