PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench has set aside the termination of 20 contractual employees of six centres for welfare of special children in different districts and ordered the provincial government to regularise their services.

Justice Ikramullah Khan and Justice Mussarat Hilali accepted a petition jointly filed by the employees, including Salman Ahmad and 19 others, whose services were terminated last year with effect from June 30, 2018.

The petitioners have been working in different centres, including Centre for Mentally Retarded and Handicapped Children Malakand, Hearing Impaired Centre Buner, Welfare Home for Destitute and Orphan Children in Hangu and Swabi, and Centre for Deaf and Dumb Children (female) in Mardan and Kohat.

The petitioners have been serving against different posts including project managers, social case workers, clerks and watchmen.

Respondents in the petition were Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government through its chief secretary; secretaries of finance, law, social welfare and special education departments; senior planning officer of social welfare department; director of the social welfare and special education department; district officers of social welfare from Malakand, Buner, Hangu, Swabi, Mardan and Kohat, and district accounts officers of these districts.

Ziaur Rehman Tajik, lawyer for the petitioners, said the director of the social welfare, special education and women empowerment department, had issued different advertisements on different dates for the appointment to different posts in the welfare centres and homes meant for special and destitute children. He added that those advertisements carried the eligibility criterion for different posts.

The lawyer said all petitioners were appointed to different posts after fulfilling the codal formalities in 2016- 17.

He added that after their appointments, the petitioners were given their respective arrival reports and that their services were extended for another period of one year due to best performance and positive approach to work.

Mr Tajik said the government had converted the annual development programme to regular budget but instead of regularising their services, the petitioners were terminated from services with effect from June 30, 2018.

He said the petitioners had not been treated in accordance with the law and their termination went against articles 4, 9 and 25 of the Constitution.

The lawyer said the outstanding performance of petitioners had led to the enrolment of around 300 special and orphan children in six centres.

He said under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Regularisation of Services Act 2018, a number of adhoc and contractual project employees were regularised but the services of the petitioners were terminated in a discriminatory, illegal and unreasonable manner. The lawyer said there were no complaints or adverse remarks regarding performance of duties of the petitioners and that due to the applicability of rules of propriety, fair play and natural justice, the services of those petitioners should be regularised.

He contended that on the same point, a number of judgments had been passed in favour of employees and projects employees had been regularised in service.

Mr Tajik referred to a recent Supreme Court judgment stating that the benefit of the judgment relating to terms and conditions of service should be given to similar employees even who were not litigants before the court.

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2019