PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday declared unconstitutional the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government act of increasing retirement age of government servants from 60 to 63 years by amending the civil servants law.
A bench consisting of Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Mohammad Naeem Anwar accepted 10 petitions filed by lawyer Shabina Noor and people from other walks of life against the KP Civil Servants (Amendment) Act, 2019, through which the relevant provision of law was amended to increase the retirement age.
The bench pronounced a short order after the completion of arguments by lawyers for the petitioners and provincial advocate general Shumail Ahmad Butt. The detailed judgment will be released afterward.
Counsel for the petitioners, including Noor Alam Khan, Mohammad Muazzam Butt, Rehmanullah Shah, Farooq Afridi, Qaisar Khan and others, contended that instead of creating more posts, the move of the government to increase retirement age of its employees would keep a large number of youth unemployed.
Accepts petitions against amendment to civil servants law
They said under the Civil Servants Act, 1973, the federal and provincial governments had fixed the age of retirement for their employees at 60 years.
The lawyers said in July 2019, the provincial government enacted the impugned KP Civil Servants (Amendment) Act, 2019, through which amendments were made in section 13 of the main law and instead of the word “sixtieth” the word “sixty-three” was incorporated.
The said provision, they stated, now provides that a civil servant should retire from service on the completion of the sixty-three year of his age.
The counsel contended that increasing the retirement age would increase the ratio of unemployed youth and the newly graduated degree-holders should have to wait for further three years for retirement of sitting officers.
Noor Alam Khan contended that the act of provincial government would further deteriorate the situation as already unemployment was 5.79 per cent in Pakistan while it was 7.9 per cent in KP and 6.3 per cent in Punjab.
He argued that by increasing the age of retirement, thousands of candidates would become overage as the government had only increased retirement age while the eligibility age was still the same for applying to a government job.
He claimed that the pension benefit would also increase with the increase in retirement age and would offset the benefits which the government intended to achieve with this controversial decision.
He pointed out that KP government had taken this controversial decision whereas other provinces including Punjab had declined to follow the same step.
He added that it was discriminatory on part of KP government to enact the impugned amendment while the same policy was not applicable in rest of the country.
Advocate general Shumail Butt contended that the petitions were not maintainable as the petitioners had not pointed out which of their fundamental rights was violated.
He argued that the decision of the government would be beneficial for development of the province.
The advocate general said the money saved for three years on account of increasing the retirement age would be utilised in developmental schemes.
He said it was a policy decision, which was approved by the provincial cabinet.
When the bench asked if the policy was so beneficial, then why Punjab didn’t adopt it, the AG replied that both provinces were independent in formulating policies as the policy of Punjab was not binding on KP’s.
The bench observed that the former KP chief secretary had also opposed the decision on certain grounds.
It added that the money meant for retirement benefits of employees could only be saved for three years through the impugned act and afterwards, the government had to face the problem of giving monetary benefits to the retiring officials.
Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2020