Retirement rules cause unease among civil servants

Published May 2, 2020
The govt has decided to prematurely retire delinquent officers. — White Star/File
The govt has decided to prematurely retire delinquent officers. — White Star/File

ISLAMABAD: At a time when dozens of civil servants superseded in the recent promotions are already in litigation, the government’s move for premature retirement of delinquent officers has added to the growing unrest among the echelon of the civil bureaucrats.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government has introduced the Civil Ser­vants (Directory Retire­ment from Service) Rules 2020 to get rid of ‘incompetent’ officers.

The rules have enabled the retirement board/committee to prematurely retire those officers who earned average performance evaluation reports (PERs, formerly known as ACR) or adverse remarks have been recorded in three or more PERs from three different officers; twice recommended for supersession by the Central Selection Board (CSB), Departmental Selection Board (DSB) or Departmental Promotion Board (DPB) or twice not recommended for promotion by the high-powered selection board and such recommendations have been approved by the competent authority; found guilty of corruption or have entered into plea bargain or voluntary return with NAB or any other investigating agency; have been on more than one occasion placed in category “C” by the CSB, DSB or DPC under the Civil Servants Promotion (BS 18-21) Rules, 2019; and have conduct unbecoming of their position.

Speaking to Dawn, Advi­ser to the Prime Minister for Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain defended the new rules.

He said the said rules had been evolved to keep best of the best officers in the bureaucracy.

He urged the media to highlight these rules positively since they had been made to ensure service delivery and performance of the civil service. He said the government had notified the promotion rules in the light of the direction of the Supreme Court.

It may be mentioned that for premature retirement of officers in BS-20 and above grades, there will be a retirement board headed by the FPSC chairman and comprising secretaries of the cabinet division, establishment division, finance division, law and justice division and secretary/ head of the relevant division.

A senior government official on condition of anonymity said the new rules had empowered the government to get rid of those officers who were not in the good book. He said scores of officers currently in the BS-20 and 21 were promoted during the previous regime. Since the government had limited options to fill up vital positions in the ministries and division, it had to rely on those officers, he added.

He pointed out that the government’s promotion rules that allowed discretionary powers to the CSB for promotion of civil servants was already under the judicial scrutiny, as around 40 officers had filed petitions against their supersession due to these rules. At this critical juncture, he added, it introduced the so-called reforms adding fuel to the fire.

He said civil service was no more attractive as it used to be in the past when civil bureaucrats had the constitutional protection.

A top government functionary told Dawn that the recent move was not something new, as in army, the superseded officers retire from service after a length prescribed for the respective ranks. He said if the civil servant was asked to go on early retirement because of his supersession, performance or for other reason, this should not be a matter for concern for the bureaucracy.

However, an official of the Police Service of Pakistan said the government should not make comparison between the service rules of military and civil bureaucracy.

He said the retirement of superseded army officer at any stage could not disturb the performance of the entire institution since every year as many as 1,000 cadets join the armed forces in two different passing-out ceremonies.

Whereas around 200 officers were inducted in all the cadres of the civil service each year, he said, adding that almost 30 to 40 officers of BS-18, 19, 20 and 21 were superseded each year by the Central Selection Board (CSB) and if the government had decided to send the superseded officers on retirement then it might not get suitable replacement for the senior positions.

If the officers with average PERs or those accused of allegations and found guilty of misconduct were retired prematurely, the civil service structure might collapse, he warned.

The officer said the idea of getting rid of the deadwood was not bad, but it should be done in a transparent manner.

Mr Hussain, the PM’s aide, dispelled the impression that the retirement rules might be utilised in an arbitrary manner.

“There is no question of being in good book or bad book,” he said, adding that the exercise would be done through a 15-member committee.

He said the committee would decide each case while keeping in mind the entire service record of the individual.

He said incompetent officers considered themselves above the law and never paid heed to the miseries of common man. The premature retirement would be deterrence for delinquent officers, he said. This would encourage them to start rendering services to the public since they had been paid out of public exchequer, he added.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2020

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