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Bureaucrats up in arms over induction of deputationists

October 22, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Section officers in the Establishment Division have protested to their senior management about the induction of two ‘blue-eyed’ deputationists.

They not only protested against the absorption of Shaukat Ali Khan and Ejaz Ahmed from the education departments of Punjab and Balochistan, but nine of them have also filed a petition before the Islamabad High Court (IHC), asking it to set aside their notification.

The two officers have been assigned important positions in the Establishment Division; Mr Khan deals with the appointment of heads of autonomous bodies, while Mr Ahmed issues notifications on the postings and transfers of officers from the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) across the country.

Officials from provincial education departments given prime posts in Establishment Division

Both the officers have been working in the Establishment Division for many years. Last year, however, the Supreme Court passed an order against the absorption of officials working on deputation.

Subsequently, the Establishment Division repatriated hundreds of officials working on deputation with the federal government to their respective departments in the provinces.

But the division did not implement the court order on its own staff, and when some officials filed a petition for its execution, the department filed an intra-court appeal against the SC order that is still pending adjudication.

In the meantime, Mr Khan filed a petition with the IHC seeking permanent absorption into the Establishment Division and the court, in September 2016, disposed of his petition with directions to proceed as per the law.

When the matter was placed before then-Establishment Division Secretary Syed Tahir Shahbaz on January 9, 2017, he rejected it.

In July this year, the federal government appointed Mr Shahbaz the federal ombudsman and made Mian Asad Hayauddin as the new establishment secretary.

It may be a coincidence, but the Establishment Division approved the absorption of both Mr Khan and Mr Ahmed on the same day.

The notification for their induction into the Office Management Group (OMG), however, was made public in August, a couple of days before the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) was convened to examine cases of section officers.

At this, section officers from the OMG reportedly recorded their protest with the competent authority as well as the DPC and challenged the induction of the two officers.

In their petition to the IHC, section officers Imtiaz Hussain, Suhail Akhtar, Faaiz Ali, Mohammad Umair, Rabnawaz Khan, Ali Faisal, Sobia Batool, Sehrish Mazari, Seikh Mohammad Umar Farooq, Gulam Khaliq, Ashij Luqman and Maryam Ayub cited the secretary Establishment Division and the two officers as respondents.

The petition alleged that instead of implementing the apex court order which stated: “The policy with regard to deputation and appointments made by transfer shall be reviewed by the government of Pakistan to bring it in conformity with the referred judgments,” the Establishment Division inducted the two officers from Balochistan and Punjab education departments in the OMG out of turn.

The petition conceded that though there was a process for the induction of provincial officers in the OMG it needed to be open for all officers of the provincial governments and should not be done on a pick and choose basis.

The petition said the IHC had not recommended the induction of Mr Khan and the then secretary Establishment Division had also rejected his case. It questioned as to how the discarded summary was revived and in addition to Mr Khan another deputationist - Mr Ahmed - was also notified as section officers in the OMG on a regular basis.

According to the petition, there were a number of officials from the provincial governments who were on top of the seniority list but were ignored by the competent authority.

When contacted, spokesman for the Establishment Division, Senor Joint Secretary Masood Akhtar Chaudhry, refused to comment saying the matter was sub judice.

It may be noted that the Establishment Division was recently also accused of taking a lenient view against a ghost employee after a probe confirmed that the entire process for his deputation from Sindh to the federal capital was fake.

The inquiry officer also recommended to the competent authority to refer the case of Waseem Raja to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

The Establishment Division, however, clarified that “Waseem Raja had deceived both the federal government as well as the government of Sindh. Accordingly, the inquiry report was sent to the provincial government for appropriate action… further, this division cancelled all the orders/letters in this regard ab initio. Mr Raja has not been paid any salary for not being a legitimate employee.”

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2017