LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday suspended the operation of a federal government notification that increased Centre’s share in the provincial bureaucracy.

Justice Sajid Mahmood Sethi stayed the notification hearing a petition challenging the existence of the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) and posting of its members in the provinces.

Several officers of the Punjab Provincial Management Service (PMS) filed the petition through Advocate Bilal Hasan Minto.

The PMS counsel argued that the 1954 CSP rules, which were used by the federal government to post its officers against provincial posts, were unconstitutional. The federal government was not entitled to post its civil servants, including those belonging to the PAS, on provincial posts, he added.

He stated the federation, in fact, encroached upon the authority of the Punjab government by reserving posts in the province for the PAS officers through the impugned rules.

He argued that the federal government could only post its civil servants in relation to matters on the federal legislative list, and all other postings, including those of the chief secretary, were purely provincial posts which could not be occupied by the federal employees.

Mr Minto contended that the government issued the impugned notification on March 12, 2021, through which the posts of the federal officers in the provinces were further increased from 115 to 446.

The counsel asked the court to end the unconstitutional hegemony and control of the provincial bureaucracy by the federation which routinely posted PAS members on important posts in the provinces.

The court was also asked to order the respondents to withdraw the PAS officers appointed against the provincial posts in Punjab forthwith and only PMS officers be appointed on such posts.

Justice Sethi suspended the impugned notification and sought detailed replies from the federal and provincial governments on the date of hearing to be fixed by the office.

LG tenure: The Lahore High Court has issued a notice to the advocate general of Punjab on a petition of chairman of a city’s union council for the provision of time/period excluded due to the enactment of the Punjab Local Government Act, 2019 in tenure to complete five years.

Aleem Majeed Awan filed the petition through Barrister Asad Rahim Khan saying he was a member of local governments formed under the Punjab Local Government Act, 2013.

The counsel said the petitioner was aggrieved of the illegal dissolution of the local governments without following the procedure of the succeeding legislation in 2019 by which he was deprived of representing his electorate for 22 months as well as subsequent seven months.

He said the petitioner had been denied the legitimate expectation to serve the public interest of his constituents, which was not only against the doctrine of democracy but also infringement of his fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 17 of the Constitution.

The counsel also requested the court to allow the petitioner to become a party to the already pending petitions on similar questions filed by Lord Mayor retired Col Mubashir Javed and others.

Justice Jawad Hassan observed that the petitioners prayed that the term of office of a local government formed under Article 140-A of the Constitution read with provisions of section 30 of the Act of 2013 should be provided to them and the period excluded due to the enactment of the new law in 2019 be added to tenure to complete their five years.

Therefore, the judge issued a notice to the principal law officer of Punjab to respond to legal questions raised in the petition.

The judge adjourned the hearing till Dec 15 and directed a law officer to ensure submission of the report and parawise comments on behalf of all the respondents on or before the next date.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2021

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