LHC issues notice to Punjab government

Upper age limit for appointment for Anti-corruption DG challenged

Our Correspondent March 28, 2019

LAHORE: Justice Asim Hafeez of the Lahore High Court issued a notice to the Punjab government for May 13 on a petition challenging the relaxation of the upper age limit for the appointment of the Anti-Corruption Establishment director general.

Petitioner Sohail Qaisar Tarar contended that the post of ACE DG was of a civil cadre and the appointment can be made only under the provisions of the Punjab Civil Servants Act 1974 and the rules framed thereunder; not otherwise.

He said the provincial government notified the Punjab Anticorruption Establishment Service Rules 2007 under Section 23 of the Punjab Civil Servants Act 1947 for such an appointment. The petitioner said service rules prescribed the criteria for appointment to various cadre posts of the ACE, including that of the DG.

He said an earlier amendment had been introduced to favour former ACE DG Brigadier (Retd) Muzaffar Ali Ranjha, thereby ruling out other eligible candidates. He added Ranjha’s education and qualification fit into a criterion which had been tailored with malafide intent and dishonesty.

The petitioner said that now, another amendment had been introduced in the said service rules for the post of the DG to favour Hussain Asghar, who retired from government service and the post of DG ACE after attaining superannuation on February 23,2019.

The impugned amendment aimed to favor the selection and continuation of Hussain Asghar’s tenure by raising the upper age limit to 63 years. “The underlying malafide objective is, once again, to eliminate and ‘knock down’ all other eligible persons, civil servants and to appoint a favourite under the garb of amended service rules.”

The petitioner further said that the malafide intentions of the respondents were evident from the fact that they had appointed Husain Asghar as the DG despite him being ineligible for the post. The petitioner highlighted that a PSP officer could not be appointed as the ACE DG under the rules. He implored that the respondents upgraded the BS-20 grade of the DG ACE to BS-22 only to illegally accommodate him.

He contended that increasing the upper age limit for initial recruitment of the DG ACE to 63 years of age is a blatant violation of sections 12 and section 13 of the Punjab Civil Servants Act 1974.

The upper age limit for initial recruitment for civil cadre posts, as prescribed under Rule 3.7 and 3.8 of the Punjab Civil Service Rules, is a maximum 25 years. It can be relaxed to a limited, but set number of years under very special circumstances. He said there was no occasion, reason or logic in the instant case to suddenly increase the upper age limit of the post of the DG ACE to 63 years, unless there was an ulterior motive to achieve a malafide target.

It was requested that the impugned notification of the latest amendment be declared illegal and unlawful. It was also asked that the operation of the notification be suspended till the final decision of the writ petition.

The respondents in the petition were named as the government of Punjab, through its chief secretary, secretary (Service) S&GAD, secretary (regulation) S&GAD, secretary to chief minister and director general Punjab Anticorruption Establishment, along with the presiding officer and members of the Service Rules Committee.

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