Quota system hasn’t been extended for want of constitutional amendment, SHC told

Published September 18, 2021
A file photo of the Sindh High Court. — Wikimedia Commons/File
A file photo of the Sindh High Court. — Wikimedia Commons/File

KARACHI: The federal authorities informed the Sindh High Court that a further extension in the quota system to allocate government jobs had so far not been made due to lack of a constitutional amendment.

The establishment division said this in its comments placed before a division bench headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar.

In reply to a petition, it further submitted that on the instruction of the Prime Minister Office a committee was constituted to look into the pros and cons of this issue and the committee had decided to have further consultation with the attorney general.

It further maintained that the existing quota system in the federal government was initially introduced in the light of Article 27 (1) of the Constitution read with Rule 14 of the Civil Servants (Appointment and Transfer) Rules 1973 for a period of 10 years and the same was extended for another 10 years through a presidential order and lastly it was extended again for 20 years.

The establishment division further submitted that the matter about amendment in the first proviso of Article 27 (1) was considered by the then cabinet in its meeting held in March 2013 in which it had recommended further extension of 20 years from Aug 14, 2013, but a constitutional amendment in this regard could not be made.

A committee formed by PMO will be consulting the attorney general on the pros and cons of quota system

The matter was again placed before the federal cabinet in July 2013 and a similar recommendation was made and then an official bill about the amendment was laid in the house, but it could not be brought on the agenda of the National Assembly for consideration; hence by virtue of Article 76 it stood lapsed on dissolution of the assembly, it maintained.

The establishment division further said that the sitting cabinet had been sworn in on August 2018 and thereafter a summary was sent to the cabinet division for placement of the matter before the Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases for consideration in May 2018, but the committee deferred its consideration for further consultation between the establishment and law and justice divisions.

Thereafter, proposals were made by both the divisions, which were again placed before the prime minister for approval to place the matter before the cabinet for consideration. However, the PM Office constituted a committee to look into the issue and submit a consensus proposal to resolve it at the earliest, it added.

The establishment division asserted that in the last meeting of the committee held in January 2021 it was decided to have further consultation with the attorney general of Pakistan in the next meeting.

It further stated that the Supreme Court in two petitions filed in 2017 had held that after 18th Amendment to the Constitution all the questions noted and raised in the Sept 13, 2018 meeting had become irrelevant.

It claimed that the law presently in force was absolutely in consonance with the provision of Article 27(1) and, therefore, the petition in question was not maintainable.

The petition was filed by the Pasban Democratic Party stating that the quota system was discriminatory and contrary to the fundamental rights of citizens guaranteed under the Constitution to join the civil service.

The petitioner pleaded to declare the quota system null and void and unconstitutional after the expiry of relevant provision in 2013 and to cancel all the appointments made on the basis of quota system since 2013 and vacant posts be refilled through open merit.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2021

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