LAHORE - The federal government intends to file a review petition against the Supreme Court’s October 3 judgment that nullified promotion of 80 senior bureaucrats, The Nation has learnt.
The officers, including brother-in-law of former President Asif Ali Zardari, were promoted during the regime of former Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. The SC held that a new board should be constituted for the promotion of the officers, urging the government to ensure the appointment of honest and apolitical officers against higher posts. The court also agreed with the petitioner that an extensive exercise was undertaken to ensure promotion of some junior officers by increasing the number of available vacancies and also adding non-cadre posts to the list.
Initially, approval of the then prime minister was obtained for 22 seats on November 27, 2012. Later, a second summary was moved on January 9, 2013, for addition of 37 vacancies. The third summary was moved on January 30 this year, making reference to 22+56 vacancies and 10 more from other groups. The purpose was nothing but to accommodate Zardari’s brother-in-law, otherwise there was no need to add PAS cadre’s vacancies like federal ombudsman, FBR, NAB, TCP, PMDC etc. Moreover, vacancies which were likely to be vacated on the retirement of grade-21 and 22 officers belonging to PAS were also included. The purpose was to reach serial No 133 and to defer the petitioner, Orya Maqbool Jan, and 48 other PAS officers.
The court observed that the government should make a policy to hold an inquiry into an officer’s lifestyle, expenses on his children’ education and their marriages, his foreign tours and his political affiliations while sending his case for promotion. In addition, his family assets at the time when he joined service should also be examined to make bureaucracy free from political affiliations. This is a dangerous trend as the officers remain obliged of those who favour them in their promotions or postings.
A member of the Central Selection Board (CSB), on condition not to be identified, said that some of the officers might be promoted ignoring strict promotion criteria, but majority were promoted on merit. He said the court judgment would psychologically affect the deserving, competent, honest and dutiful officers. Many deserving and competent officers, he feared, might retire before the new board.
The court, in its judgment, said the CSB should work objectively rather than using its discretion during the promotion process. There should be no political affiliations, the court said, adding promotion policies should be reviewed so that honest, dutiful and professional officers could emerge on top slots of the state organisations. A source in the Establishment Division, while throwing light on the effects of the judgment, disclosed that over 300 senior officers might be affected. “It has also increased the workload of the Establishment Division,” said the officer.
He said the division was of the view that the decision, being vague, would be sent to the Law Division for advice.
A federal secretary, on condition of anonymity, said about 20 officers out of 73 were promoted during 2011, but in 2013, promotion of a large number of officers to higher grades, some of them, surely having political affiliations like Dr Fazalullah Pechuhu, raised eyebrows of many. “Following the SC judgment in letter and spirit, while promoting officers, the top management service can protect itself from the political affiliations, unfairness, favouritism and ensure supremacy of merit, transparency and rule of law,” he added. The civil servants in the days to come would have to face more political pressures and the SC judgments in the Anita Turab and Orya Maqbool Jan cases would be a blessing in disguise and a shield to shun any extraneous pressure while performing their official duties, he maintained.
Responding to a query how political affiliation could be ascertained, he said, “Give two plus points on a good posting during a political regime, then two more marks for a second good posting during the same political regime and award negative two if he is given a good posting for the third time,” he suggested. “Some civil servants did not bother to submit true pictures of their assets and foreign accounts and the promotion board did not take notice of such a grave violation that ultimately articulates unfairness and favouritism,” he held