Sohail Ahmed Memon was working in Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) as an Administrative Officer in Grade II and his last posting was in Kunar Pashki, Pakistan's largest gas field. However, on August 17 last month, a Supreme Court decision struck him like lightning. And he was fired the same day.
Now OGDCL is not ready to recognize Sohail Ahmed as its employee while he is trying to file a fresh petition in the Supreme Court to review the decision.
Sohail Ahmed says that as a result of the decision of the country's highest court, not only him but also about 250 people have been fired from his institution. The number of employees in a dozen government agencies in Pakistan is said to be around 17,000 who will be affected by the decision.
'Dismissed as political recruitment'
Sohail Ahmed says he and his associates became part of the corporation during 1995-96, when the country was ruled by the Pakistan People's Party (PPP). Meanwhile, several other entities, including Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL), Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Intelligence Bureau (IB) , The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the National Highway Authority (NHA), State Life and other federal departments.
He said that after the departure of the government and the coming to power of the new PML-N government, the employees who were recruited in various institutions during the PPP era were dismissed as political recruits.
According to Sohail Ahmed, all the employees, including him, were given jobs according to the prevailing procedure. The employees turned to the Services Tribunal and the courts, but were unable to recover most of their jobs. Some SSGC employees were rehired on court orders.
Rehabilitation of dismissed employees and payment of dues
After the re-establishment of the PPP government in 2008, a presidential ordinance was introduced in 2009 to reinstate all these employees and such employees were also paid three years' salary.
The ordinance was passed by Parliament in December 2010 and became a formal law, dubbed the Second Employees Reinstatement Act (SERA).
Such employees were asked to return to jobs by advertisement and permanent employees were also promoted one grade above the time of their dismissal. While non-permanent employees were reinstated in the same grade.
About 17,000 people were rehabilitated under the law. A review board was formed under the supervision of Federal Minister Khurshid Shah to implement the law and remove legal hurdles.
The problem started when some employees of the Intelligence Bureau filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court alleging that the seniority of the existing employees was being affected due to the restoration of 1,000 employees. However, the reinstated employees also went to court over the non-implementation of the law by some more institutions.
After the High Court, the matter went to the Supreme Court, which, after lengthy hearings, reserved its verdict in 2019, which was pronounced 20 months later in August this year.
What is in the court decision?
The court ruled that the law was unconstitutional and that the dismissed employees had been given seniority in the past. Which is a violation of Article Four of the Constitution. By passing this law, the legislature exceeded its powers and such people were given undue advantage.
It was also said that the employees had full right to challenge their dismissal under the Services Tribunal Act and Article 12 of the Constitution which they did not exercise on time which made the matter a thing of the past. ۔ In this way, all the benefits to the beneficiaries of this law are immediately withheld. While the arrears of three years given in this regard will also have to be returned to the fired employees.
Following the court's decision, implementation has begun. Thousands of employees have been fired. Most of these employees are over 50 years old.
On the one hand, these employees have started preparing to file petitions for review of the court decision. On the other hand, they are also protesting in many cities.
Ghulam Mohammad, who has been working in State Life at the age of 57, says who will hire him now at this age? They also have to repay a three-year lump sum salary. Then in this era of inflation, how will the stove of their house work now?
'Thousands of families lost their jobs'
The PPP, which passed the law during its tenure, said in a statement that it had made 16,000 families jobless.
PPP Senator Taj Haider seems to regret the decision.
“The PPP has an economic philosophy under which we believe that economic growth is not possible unless capital is distributed,” he said. That is why the PPP government is talking about raising salaries and providing jobs to the people and it is also necessary to increase the purchasing power of the people.
Taj Haider added that all the people who did not belong to any one party were given jobs only after fulfilling the usual procedure. So it is wrong to call it political recruitment.
They are also unwilling to accept that in the past, overstaffing was given to people in state institutions.
He says that in fact it is the management problems in these institutions that lead to such cases. In his view, the real problem is when there is a crisis due to wrong management decisions.
“Politically motivated recruitment in government agencies is a reality”
In this regard, Hafeez Pasha, an economist, former Federal Minister for Finance and a teacher at Beacon House University in Lahore, says that politically motivated recruitment in government institutions is a fact that cannot be denied. Whenever the number of employees is high, the government has to increase the subsidy of these government agencies.
He said that PIA and Pakistan Railways have to provide loan or subsidy every year and the government of Pakistan has to bear the guarantee in obtaining the loan. When these institutions are unable to repay the loan, it is obviously up to the government to repay it.
He said that the government had to release Rs. 330 billion last year to cover the guaranteed debt while at present the government has to pay Rs. 2400 billion in arrears of such loans. In other words, this is also a loan equivalent to revolving loans in the power sector, but no one talks about it.
He said that apart from loans, the government has been releasing Rs. 150 billion in subsidies to these institutions to cover its losses.
He said that unfortunately jobs in Pakistan are given on political grounds or given and taken for political purposes. The governments established here have been using it for political gain.
Hafeez Pasha said that an official report released earlier this year stated that 85 government enterprises currently have 416,000 employees and the total deficit of these enterprises during the year 2018-19 was Rs 129 billion. ۔ Among them, National Highway Authority, Pakistan Steel Mills, Agricultural Development Bank, Pakistan Post Office, Pakistan Railways, state-owned power generating and transmission companies were among the worst affected.
The government has started implementing the decision of the Supreme Court under which the employees are being dismissed. However, so far no position of the government has come forward on this issue.
According to official sources, the government is considering appealing the decision to the Supreme Court. The government has formed a committee to hear the demands of the employees sitting outside the Supreme Court.
. (tagsToTranslate) خبریں (t) پاکستان (t) pakistan (t) karachi (t) supreme court (t) protest (t) OGDCL