LAHORE: The Punjab government has legalised the appointments of junior officers to senior posts by amending the posting rules after the Lahore High Court declared such appointments “alien to law and violative of the Punjab Civil Servants Act 1974” last month.

Declaring the concept of OPS (own pay and scale) appointments as violative of the PCS Act and its rules, the LHC had observed the Punjab government was flouting the law with impunity by posting junior officers to roles meant for senior officers.

The court had directed the chief secretary to review the appointment of 183 officers posted against higher grade posts in the province within 30 days i.e. Sept 15 deadline.

A report submitted by the chief secretary revealed that several BS-18 officers were serving in BS-20 and at least three BS-19 officers were holding BS-21 posts.

PCS (Amendment) Ordinance 2023 promulgated

A scan of the postings of administrative secretaries, divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners revealed that BS-19 officers were appointed to posts of the administrative secretary and 11 special secretaries; BS-20 officers were posted as commissioners of Lahore, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala and Faisalabad, even though these posts were meant for BS-21.

About 40 deputy commissioners’ posts, an official document revealed that 13 BS-18 and three BS-19 officers were posted to BS-20 posts. Similarly, 14 BS-18 officers were appointed to BS-19 posts of deputy commissioners.

‘Bold move’

In a bold move, the Punjab government legalised the appointment of junior officers’ postings to higher grade posts by promulgating a PCS (Amendment) Ordinance 2023 — ahead of its appearance before the court. The ordinance amended Section 9 of Act VIII of 1974 and inserted the words “equivalent or higher” — legally allowing the junior officers to occupy higher-grade posts.

Speaking to Dawn, senior civil officers were of the view that the existing structure of grading the posts needed to be reviewed and rationalised. Citing an example, an officer said the four divisions’ commissioners’ posts had been designated for BS-21 officers, but such a senior officer ever opted or posted against the posts of Lahore, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala and Faisalabad commissioners.

An officer said that both administrative secretaries and special secretaries’ posts were of BS-20, but the ground realities were that all the administrative powers rested with the administrative secretary and special secretaries found themselves at a loss.

An officer added that the PAS officers refuse to be posted as special secretaries while in BS-20 and usually opt for these posts when they are in BS-19.

Similarly, though there were 16 posts of deputy commissioners in BS-20, mostly either BS-18 or in some cases BS-19 officers get posted as deputy commissioners in selected districts.

In the presence of BS-22 officers, the federal government has posted BS-21 officers against the BS-22 posts of Punjab chief secretary and IGP.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2023

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