PESHAWAR: Declaring that the agriculture officers with MS honours degree are entitled to MPhil allowance at the rate of Rs2,500 per month, a Peshawar High Court bench has directed the provincial government to grant the same to those officers in line with the earlier notifications of the government and Higher Education Commission.
Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Ahmad Ali accepted a petition jointly filed by Sajid Khan and 30 other officers of the agriculture department and ruled that a letter issued by the HEC on May 23, 2017, had already resolved a controversy regarding the equivalence of degrees entitling the petitioners to draw the allowance.
The petitioners had challenged a notification issued by the provincial government on Oct 14, 2016, to declare that the qualifications equivalent to MPhil was not entitled to MPhil allowance.
PHC orders grant of that allowance to agriculture officers with MS honours
They requested the court to declare that notification illegal.
The bench ruled that the Oct 2016 notification had already been set aside by the high court on Feb 7, 2018.
The court ruled that the respondents, including the provincial government, were not supposed to disentitle the petitioners from the relief already granted to them and that too under the garb of a letter already declared null and void by the court.
The bench also referred to a HEC letter of May 23, 2017, observing that the letter showed that the matter of equivalence of MPhil and MS degrees had been settled and that those with MPhil or MS degrees were eligible to draw the allowance in light of a finance division letter issued on Jan 4, 2017.
Saleem shah Hoti, lawyer for the petitioners, said the HEC had granted the equivalence to MS and MPhil degrees on Jan 29, 2015, while the finance division issued a notification on July 1, 2016, declaring that the government servants with MPhil degree were entitled to MPhil allowance at the rate of Rs2,500 per month.
He said the government also issued a notification on July 14, 2017, to grant MPhil allowance to its employees holding MPhil degree.
The lawyer, however, said another notification issued on Oct 14, 2016, declared that those having qualifications equivalent to MPhil were not entitled to MPhil allowance.
He said the University of Agriculture and University of Engineering and Technology, Peshawar, had allowed the MS degree holders that allowance.
The lawyer said the petitioners had applied for the allowance but their requests were rejected in light of the Oct 14, 2016, notification.
The bench observed that the HEC letter issued on Jan 29, 2015, showed that the Equivalence Committee of the erstwhile University Grants Commission had decided in 1986 to equate the degree of Master of Science (Hons) Agriculture awarded by agriculture universities to MPhil for the purpose of jobs and other benefits.
On Oct 24, another bench comprising Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Mohammad Naeem Anwar had accepted an almost identical petition filed by around 230 employees of the elementary and secondary education department.
The petitioners had insisted that the MS, MBA and MSc (Hons) were declared equivalent to MPhil by the HEC, so they were also entitled to draw MPhil allowance.
Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2019