Justice denied: Over 200 officers entangled in litigation with Establishment Div

Complainants hold selection board responsible


Saeed Awan/rizwan Shehzad February 14, 2016
Complainants hold selection board responsible. PHOTO: IHC WEBSITE

ISLAMABAD: The “vision” of the Establishment Division is to excel in human resource management in public service, yet over 200 government officers of various cadres are entangled in legal wrangling across the country.

According to a report submitted to the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat recently, it emerged that 219 cases of civil servants are pending before various courts and tribunals nationwide. The statistics reveal that 94 cases, the highest number, are pending before the Federal Service Tribunal, followed by 85 at the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Further, 21 cases are pending before the LHC, nine before the SHC, three before the BHC, and seven before the Supreme Court.

“Seen from any angle, it is evident that the authority has not applied its mind while exercising its discretion to promote officers serving in BS-21 to BS-22. This has resulted in the exercise becoming discretionary,” IHC Judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui noted in its order while deciding the civil servants’ case last year.

Contrary to the “mission statement” of an “institutionalised merit system”, hundreds of civil servants are aggrieved at the denial of their promotions to higher posts.

They have been facing deferment or supersession, despite meeting the criteria of seniority, length of service, experience, performance evaluation and training reports for promotion, while 15 marks are at the discretion of the Central Selection Board (CSB).

Out of these 15 marks, five are allocated for ‘integrity/general reputation/perception’. These points are overriding, where an officer cannot be promoted unless the board grants him or her at least, three out of the five marks.

“The award of 15 marks under the new policy with overriding effect is like empowering CSB with the sword of veto,” Justice Siddiqui noted. For instance, the judge elaborated, 75 marks of a civil servant will reduce to naught if the CSB members are not persuaded to award three out of the five marks.

Justice Siddiqui also noted that CSB in certain cases recommended deferments for one year when the civil servant was about to retire on attaining the age of superannuation.

In another case, an officer was recommended for deferment solely on the grounds of not having done the mandatory training course, which he was otherwise exempted under the promotion policy, for being above the age of 58.

Moreover, several officers were recommended for one-year deferments based on unsatisfactory performance, despite earning outstanding performance reports.

The majority of the complainants held that the CSB is responsible for their suffering. While requesting anonymity, they told The Express Tribune that non-promotion of the eligible and promotion of favourites was the main bone of contention between the division and officers concerned.

The board did not give any reason why juniors were given preference over seniors, and never provided a hearing to the aggrieved officers to satisfy the authority’s reservations before withholding promotions.

The court had declared that the entire process carried out by the CSB on the basis of the formula was illegal. The federal government filed intra-court appeals against the promotions of bureaucrats requesting the court to set aside the order of the single bench.

Superior courts in the country have long held that on the basis of a dubious formula and whimsical approach, accrued valuable rights cannot be frustrated, yet these civil servants have been denied promotions.

The court had declared that the entire process carried out by the CSB on the basis of the formula was illegal. The federal government filed intra-court appeals against the promotions of bureaucrats requesting the court to set aside the order of the single bench.

The cases are pending adjudication.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th,  2016.

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