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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday summoned acting general manager (GM) of Punjab Saaf Pani Company on a petition moved by over a dozen terminated employees of the company.

Muhammad Amjad and 15 others, including officers of BPS-17, had approached the court challenging their removal for being illegal.

Counsel for the petitioners, Advocate Safdar Shaheen Pirzada, told the court that the acting GM had been threatening the petitioners since they filed the petition.

He claimed that the official had also told the petitioners that he would not submit any reply in the court, adding that the conduct of the officer amounted to contempt of court.

Justice Sajid Mahmood Sethi observed that if allegations of the petitioners proved to be true the court would issue a contempt notice to the GM. The judge directed the officer to appear in person on Sept 16 and explain his position.

Earlier, the counsel argued that the company removed 132 employees on the pretext of financial crunch. He said the company violated conditions of the employment contract by terminating services of the petitioners. He argued that the petitioners were appointed for a project and their services could not be terminated until completion of the project.

He further stated that a bare perusal of the termination orders showed that they were neither logical nor legal, but instead based on arbitrariness. He pointed out that embezzlement of public funds at Saaf Pani Company had been reported by the media and the matter of huge salaries drawn by senior officials also came under scrutiny of the Supreme Court.

He said owing to the pressure from media and the apex court, respondent authorities made the petitioners scapegoats by terminating their services in a bid to express concern with public money.

The lawyer asked the court to set aside the impugned orders for being unlawful and reinstate the petitioners in the interest of justice and fair play.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2018