ISLAMABAD: Judicial intervention has been sought against the ‘unfriendly’ amendments introduced by the Establishment Division to rules of appointment in the Office Management Group (OMG).

Officers from the group had previously filed for representation before the secretary (establishment) against appointment of deputationists as section officers but to no avail.

Omar Qayyum, a section officer at the Establishment Division, filed a pro bono petition against the Amendment in Appointment by Transfer in OMG (Conduct of Examination) Rules, 2020 as this, according to him, has opened a floodgate for induction in the civil bureaucracy even for those not fit for this service.

The petition has challenged the “process being conducted by the Respondents Establishment Division and Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) for induction of non-civil servants to posts in OMG on the basis of appointment by transfer, in violation of and beyond the sanctioned 10pc reserved quota for such appointments by transfer”.

Petitioner claims govt brought ‘drastic change’ in eligibility criteria for appointment by transfer

The petition also challenged amendment brought in the Office Memorandum (OM) dated May 11, 1975 by the Establishment Division on July 2, 2020, through which the division has exceeded its jurisdiction and allowed for absorption of non-civil servants in the OMG by way of appointment by transfer.

As per the Office Memorandum, the occupational group comprised all ministerial posts in the federal secretariat from BPS-1 to 16, posts of section officers in BPS-17 and 18 and other posts including posts in BPS-19 and 20.

On July 7, 2020, the division added an amendment as per which, “a regular BS-17 or BS-18 Civil Servant, Provincial Civil Servant, Government Servant, Public Servant, or officer of Autonomous Body/Corporation having served on deputation in Federal Secretariat on Section Officers Post for a period of (03) years shall be eligible to appear in examination (test and interview) to be conducted by FPSC”.

As per an audit report prepared by the Auditor General of Pakistan, several officers working at the Establishment Division on deputation have overstayed their deputation period well over the five-year maximum period allowed in such cases.

These officers include officials from provincial education departments, ex-cadre and non-cadre officials and, in one instance, a veterinary doctor from Balochistan.

The office of the Auditor General of Pakistan has termed these appointments “unauthorised” as no notification containing the approval of a competent authority was provided to the auditors, nor were the personal files of any of the 14 officers furnished.

Therefore, auditors have ruled that their salaries should not have been paid and have recommended that the amount spent on their salary and allowances be recovered.

The amendments in the rules were made pursuant to the order of the Supreme Court (September 2016) which had laid down the procedure for retaining officials on deputation as well as their absorption in the borrowing departments, with the consent of the lending department.

The apex court registrar informed the Establishment Division on Oct 27, 2017 that “officers who are on deputation will be sent back to their parent departments” and asked the federal government to review “policy with regard to deputation and appointments made by transfer to bring it in conformity with the referred judgement”.

The court provided an opportunity “to all the candidates who meet the stipulated criteria to apply for the posts of OMG against the 10pc reserved quota”.

The petition of the OMG officer claims that the government has brought a drastic change in the eligibility criteria for appointment by transfer to BS-17 and BS-18 against the 10pc reserved quota in OMG.

It added that civil servants such as the petitioner, as per the OM, were required to render minimum five years of service in the group before becoming eligible for promotion to BS-18 whereas through the amendment such criteria had been relaxed without providing any reasoning whatsoever.

Moreover, the seniority of the petitioner and the other similarly placed officers in BS-17 and their subsequent chances of promotion will be adversely affected through such criteria, it added.

The amended OM, according to the petitioner, is devoid of any reasons as to why only non-civil servants can be inducted into the OMG and not any other occupational groups of civil service.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2022

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