PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday rejected the petition of a senior officer of the health department’s management cadre against his transfer as the Provincial Health Services Academy’s director-general on the charge of passing ‘derogatory’ remarks against a former prime minister in a social media messaging group.

A bench consisting of Justice Roohul Amin Khan and Justice Syed M Attique Shah pronounced a short order for the rejection of the petition of Dr Sahib Gul (BPS-20) after hearing preliminary arguments by his counsel and advocate general Shumail Ahmad Butt.

The petitioner was appointed the PHSA DG on Aug 19. A month later, Sept 19 to be exact, the health secretary notified his transfer asking him to report to the directorate-general (health services).

The notification said the petitioner had ‘shared messages of derogatory and defamatory nature against the former prime minister and his family by using his personal number’.

“He [Dr Sahib Gul] had transmitted messages in a WhatsApp group titled “Management Cadre Association” vilifying the former prime minister,” it read.

Though the former prime minister was not named in the notification, some officials insisted that the remarks were made against Mr Imran Khan.

Dr Sahib Gul challenged that notification in the court contending that the orders for his transfer were issued for ‘political consideration and to appease someone’.

Advocate general Shumail Butt said the petition was not maintainable and was liable to be dismissed.

He said the petitioner was a civil servant and since the transfer was mentioned in the terms and conditions of his service, orders for his transfer were ‘within the jurisdiction of the services tribunal’.

Referring to Article 212 of the Constitution, the AG said an absolute bar was placed on the high court to entertain any petition in matters of terms and conditions of service.

He said the Supreme Court had already passed strong observations about the high court taking up such matters and declared that if such proceedings were undertaken, it could warrant contempt proceedings against the high court.

The AG argued that the conduct of the petitioner was questionable as despite being a civil servant, he got himself involved in a political activity in violation of Article 17 of the Constitution and the relevant rules.

The petitioner’s counsel contended that his client got unblemished and spotless track record of service to his credit and he had served in the provincial civil services for more than three decades.

He contended that false allegations were levelled against the petitioner in the impugned order and notification, which showed that the order was based on mala fide.

The lawyer said the petition was not of ordinary nature and it was in fact a case where a civil servant was being harassed and humiliated for political point scoring only and thus his fundamental rights provided in the constitution had been violated.

The respondents in the petition were the provincial government through the chief secretary, provincial health secretary, director-general (health services) and the principal of the Post Graduate Paramedical Institute, Dr Saeed Gul, who was given the charge of that post.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2022

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