The Sindh High Court issued on Thursday arrest warrants for the Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC) chairperson and suspended the SPSC secretary over non-compliance with court orders.
The Hyderabad circuit bench, comprising Justice Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan and Justice Muhammad Saleem Jessar, expressed dismay over the conduct of the SPSC officials during the hearing of a petition pertaining to alleged irregularities in the appointments of medical officers.
"The secretary, in spite of clear directions, neither brought the complete record pertaining to the case in hand, nor has he sworn the affidavit as per the spirit of the aforesaid order, and further his conduct while addressing the court was deplorable," read the order.
The secretary, Syed Atharullah Shah, will remain under suspension until the next date of hearing.
Besides, the SPSC chairman will have to furnish Rs2 million as bail surety if he wants to avoid his arrest.
At the last hearing on April 1, the bench had directed both, the SPSC chairperson and secretary, to personally appear before the court at Thursday's hearing. They were directed to come along with the entire record of the appointments of medical officers in the Sindh Health Department on 1,783 posts advertised on July 19, 2018.
However, the secretary told the bench upon inquiry that he had not brought the record, without justifying the reason for non-compliance. He also informed the court that the SPSC chairperson was in Hyderabad and he did not know why the SPSC head did not attend the hearing.
The petitioner, Dr Asma Makhdoom's counsel, Advocate Sajjad Ahmed Chandio, said respondent officials of the SPSC had been showing disregard for the court. The court also witnessed how the commission had been trying to maintain secrecy over the controversial appointments, he said.
Moreover, the petitioner informed the court that written tests for the posts of BS-17 medical officers and BS-17 women medical officers were held on December 9, 2018. According to her, after advertising the posts on July 19, 2018, the SPSC issued a press release on November 14, 2018, dividing the positions on the basis of gender. As many as 1,337 posts were kept for male medical officers and 446 for female officer, she said.
The result was announced in January 2019 and subsequently the interviews of successful candidates were conducted. However, just 477 male candidates passed the written test and 302 passed the interview. On the other hand, 434 female candidates passed the tests for 446 posts.
The petitioner claimed that for 1,047 seats, which remained vacant, the commission conducted interviews and declared 945 candidates successful on September 16, 2019, mostly under political influence or nepotism. She prayed the court to declare the procedure of qualifying tests adopted by the commission and the appointments of the medical officers without passing the written test illegal. She also pleaded before the court to declare the bifurcation of posts on the basis of gender unlawful.
The petitioner sought her appointment against the vacant posts because she had qualified the written test.
The SHC adjourned the hearing to April 22.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2021.