ISLAMABAD: Fearing their termination in light of a recent order by a single-member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), hundreds of employees belonging to different government departments who were regularised recently have pinned hopes on the division bench, which is all set to take up a plea of the National Assembly Secretariat on Thursday against the single-judge bench’s verdict.

These employees maintained that the order of the single bench was meant for the petitioners only, but some of the government departments were trying to lay off their respective employees on the basis of this ruling.

In 2009, the PPP government decided to regularise contractual employees and a committee of the cabinet led by Syed Khursheed Shah regularised 100,000 daily wagers, who had been working in various federal departments and ministries. A significant number of employees could not be regularised despite the directives of the Khursheed Shah committee.

In 2022, the government decided to form a committee headed by PPP legislator Qadir Khan Mandokhail, which regularised the employees of over 150 departments of 39 divisions. Thousands of employees were subsequently regularised.

Division bench to take NA Secretariat’s appeal against single bench order

Some of the recently regularised employees, who met this correspondent at Dawn’s office in Sector G-7, said that the Mandokhail committee issued show cause notices and moved privilege motions against some of the secretaries due to which they approached the IHC against the body. IHC Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani consequently ruled that the mandate of the committee was to look into the issue of sacked employees only, and that the committee transgressed from its mandate.

“In light of this order, the ministries plan to withdraw notifications of their regularisation,” one of the employees told Dawn. “However, the National Assembly Secretariat has filed an appeal in the division bench of the IHC and the next hearing is on November 30,” he said.

The petition of the National Assembly Secretariat, available with Dawn, stated that according to the initial circular, dated Oct 12, 2022, the mandate of the committee was to look into the issue of sacked employees but it was revised on November 4 and the committee was authorised to look into the issue of contractual employees as well.

“The learned single judge, with respect, ignored the ToRs mentioned in the circular dated November 4…[which] empowered the special committee to issue directions/show cause notices to any department in case of necessity,” the petition stated.

Officials said that there was a ruling of the National Assembly speaker, dated August 24, 2023, which said the speaker’s ruling could not be called into question. Moreover, according to the documents of the Prime Minister Secretariat and Cabinet Secretariat, the ministries were also advised to implement the decision of the NA special committee.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2023

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