PHC bench overlooked apex court rulings: CJP

Top judge says response submitted by PHC registrar on WBB plea unsatisfactory

Our Correspondent April 16, 2020
Peshawar High Court. PHOTO: PPI/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday restrained the Peshawar High Court’s bench No 1 – headed by PHC CJ Justice Waqar Seth -- from hearing a petition related to the terms and conditions of services of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Workers Welfare Board’s (WWB) contract employees.

Hearing a plea filed by the WBB, a three-member special bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed observed that the high court could not hear cases until a decision was made on the appeals pending in the apex court.

The chief justice noted that the high court should make decisions based on the principles laid down by the SC. Apparently, he added, the PHC’s bench No 1 had overlooked the apex court’s rulings.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed that the high court was authorised to announce its verdicts keeping in view the recent decisions of the SC under Article 189 of the Constitution.

Justice Gulzar noted that the response submitted to the top court by the PHC registrar on the matter was unsatisfactory.

“When such arguments were made before the apex court regarding high courts, it was necessary to review them,” he added.

He said the counsel for the WWB had alleged that the PHC chief justice was not following the precedent set by the SC. “Disregarding the apex court’s decisions is not a good thing and the SC does not want to make any observations.”

A day earlier, PHC Registrar Khawaja Wajihuddin had submitted a three-page concise statement to the top court, wherein it was stated that in view of Article 189 of the Constitution, the PHC was following the SC’s latest judgment on the matter and the high court had no cavil if the apex court ordered fixing another bench of the high court or a larger bench to hear the matter.

“The apex court, in its 2016 judgment, held that the rules of board are statutory in nature therefore writ petitions under Article 199 are maintainable,” the statement read.

“After this judgment, there is not even a single judgment wherein this judgment has been overruled. Indeed there are 2/3 judgments of the apex court wherein without discussing this aspect of case, had held that contractual employees of statutory body even cannot ask for regularisation or reinstatement after the termination of contractual obligations.”

The PHC registrar contended that the counsel for the petitioner had misguided the SC that there were different judgments on the point of regularisation and termination of contractual obligations of WWB employees, adding that the case was entirely different in nature.

Regarding the claim that there had been consistent violation of Article 189 of the Constitution especially by PHC bench No 1 headed by the high court’s chief justice, the registrar submitted that Justice Seth in his February 17 order had made it very clear that the decision to turn down the request to form a larger bench was made in view of the latest SC judgment.

“However, the main judgment in the matter before PHC is yet to be delivered in view of Article 189 of the Constitution,” the statement read.

Last week, the apex court had directed the PHC CJ not to hear the case and summoned the PHC registrar for an explanation.

The lawyer for the WWB had informed the top court that the PHC CJ was not following the precedent set by the SC and rejected his request for the formation of a larger bench to hear the case pertaining to the regularisation or reinstatement of a teacher in Swabi.