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PPP govt defies SC again in new promotion rules

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By Ansar Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has finally notified the rules for the promotion of government servants to BS-22 at a time and in a manner that perfectly suits some of the influential bureaucrats, including the principal secretary to the prime minister.

While the Supreme Court had desired the revival of the promotion rules rescinded in 1998, which set the condition of at least three years service in BS-21 to make an officer eligible for promotion to BS-22, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has reduced it to two-years, ignoring the SC directives.

It is interesting to note that the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Nargis Sethi, who too got demoted to BS-21 after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision, completed her two years in BS-21 on Wednesday, August 26, 2010. The new rules were notified on August 16, only 10 days back.

The Supreme Court had handed down its decision in April this year but it took the government quite a few months to frame the new rules.

Initially, the government had given an indication of reviving the 1998 rules containing the condition of minimum three-years of service in BS-21 but later it changed its mind despite the fact that the Federal Public Service Commission chief Justice (retd) Bhagwandas, when consulted, had fully supported the condition of minimum three-years of service in BS-21.

The 2009 promotions of 54 bureaucrats to BS-22 by Prime Minister Gilani were nullified by the Supreme Court as these promotions grossly negated merit and resorted to the policy of pick and choose. While the fact remains that quite a few demoted secretaries were promoted to BS-22 within a few months of their promotion to BS-21, several demoted officers would have been ineligible even today for promotion if the 1998 promotion rules had been revived.

These include Principal Secretary to the prime minister, Nargis Sethi, who was promoted to BS-21 on August 26, 2008; Ahmad Bakhsh Lehri, promoted to BS-21 on 26-06-2008; Ghulam Ali Shah, 26-06-2008; Javed Mahmood, 02-01-2008; Imtiaz Inayat Elahi, 02-01-2008; Sami Saeed, 02-01-2008; Sohail Ahmad, 02-01-2008; Sayyed Jawed Ali Shah Bukhari, 29-05-2009; Azhar Ali Farooqui, 30-04-2008; Ghulam Muhammad Rind, 23-05-2009; Ghulam Rasool Ahpan, 28-02-2009; Ahmad Mahmood Zahid, 18-12-2007; Abdul Shafiq, 16-05-2009; Neelam S Ali, 29-12-2007; Khalid Idrees, 18-12-2007; Inamullah Khan, 18-12-2007; Taweed Akhtar, 17-11-2007; Agha Sarwar Qazilbash, 19-12-2007 and Mansoor Suhail, 15-05-2009.

But the rules notified by the government now suit most of the above officers, many of whom are holding key positions. While nullifying the promotions of 54 officers, who were elevated purely on the whims of the prime minister and in the absence of any promotion rules, the Supreme Court’s decision said: “It would be appreciated that to ensure fairness and justness, the rules rescinded on April 4, 1998 are re-enacted accordingly.”

According to the just notified promotion rules, the conditions setting the eligibility of the officer for his promotion to BS-22 include (i) Twenty-five years service in Basic Scale 17 and above, excluding the period of suspension not counted as duty and extraordinary leave, and has completed at least two years in a post in Basic Scale 21; (ii) at least three “very good” reports during the last six years; (iii) No penalty under Government Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 1973 or under the Removal from Service (Special Powers) Ordinance, 2000 (since repealed) has been imposed upon him during his tenure in BS-21; and (iv) possesses sufficient variety of experience.

Under these rules, the promotions to BS-22 would be considered by a high powered selection board comprising the prime minister, who would be the chairman of the board, and members including principal secretary to the prime minister, cabinet secretary, secretary establishment and administrative secretary concerned, who would be co-opted member.
The constitution of the board reflects one strange fact that all the permanent members of this high powered selection board are those three top secretaries, who work directly under the prime minister and do not report to any minister.

The principal secretary to the prime minister, secretary establishment and secretary cabinet are considered as the top bureaucratic aides of the chief executive. These rules shall apply to all posts in Basic Scale 22 in the All Pakistan Service or, as the case may be, civil service of the federation or posts in connection with the affairs of the Federation, including the post in BS-22 as secretary in the secretariat group or equivalent in the regularly constituted occupational groups and services.

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