LAHORE: Pakistan Railways formally launched the hiring process in its department through balloting on Monday amid criticism it was against fundamental rights.
The balloting process, happening for the first time in Pakistan Railways (PR), for posts of grades BPS 1 to 5, was following a notification by the Establishment Division issued on June 17 , under the Civil Servants (Appointment, Promotion and Transfer) 1973 Rules, (Amended), on the orders of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Moreover, PR officials kept the process under wraps especially from the media. “According to general instructions issued by our ministry, we were not supposed to call the media to cover this new recruitment process. The balloting process — which was sort of a manual one having boxes inscribed with various posts — was transparent, as many candidates witnessed it. We also made a video of the two-hour-long balloting held here in Lahore on Monday,” PR Divisional Superintendent Aamir Nisar Chaudhry told Dawn.
However, he promised that journalists would be called for balloting the next time. “Though we have no instructions from the top authorities to call media and cover such events, journalists can observe the next balloting scheduled on Sept 4 and afterwards,” said Mr Chaudhry.
When Dawn spoke to constitutional experts about the recruitment process through balloting, they said it was contrary to basic fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution and that the interview process is mandatory in order to select the right person for a job. The balloting process will create doubts over its transparency, they said.
In the first phase, the PR started balloting of several shortlisted candidates who had applied for vacancies in helper, sweeper and cleaner positions. Paper slips with names of shortlisted candidates, who had earlier cleared skill and fitness tests, were dropped inside the boxes in the presence of the candidates, PR’s general manager and the divisional superintendent. After the boxes were shaken, the slips were taken out one by one. “This way we completed the balloting process and displayed the lists of successful candidates,” Mr Chaudhry said.
According to the notification, after the word “basis” as mentioned in the civil servants (appointment, promotion and transfer) rules, 1973, the words “through balloting” has been inserted. “In rule-16, after the words “basis”, the words “through balloting” shall be inserted,” reads the Establishment Division’s notification issued in the light of the cabinet decision in this regard. Similarly, other amendments were also made in Rules 14 and 15.
“Simply, you can say balloting has replaced the final interview process,” Mr Chaudhry said.
Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2019