The staff of lower courts observed a pen-down strike in Karachi as well as throughout the Sindh province on Monday.
The pen-down strike was called by All Sindh Sub-ordinate Judicial Staff Welfare Organisation (ASSJSWO). Work at courts was completely at standstill as none of the court staff appeared in the court. Later, a rally was staged at main MA Jinnah Road that led to a gridlock on the busy thoroughfare in the morning. The rally proceeded to Karachi Press Club (KPC) under the leadership of President ASSJSWO Essay Memon.
Addressing a press conference at KPC, the members said that they will continue the pen-down strike till Wednesday for the acceptance of their demand about a raise in their salaries as stated in the National Judicial Policy which is being implemented by the Sindh and Punjab High Courts. They further added that if their demands are not met by September 22, they will go on a hunger strike in front of the Sindh High Court (SHC) till the acceptance of their demands.
It is worth mentioning here that a petition was filed in the Sindh High Court (SHC) regarding a raise in salary of the lower court staff and an order on this petition was reserved on May 21. However, the order remains under status quo since then.
In reply to a question, General Secretary ASSJSWO Nasir said that the Acting Chief Justice of SHC, Musheer Alam during his visit to the lower courts had assured them that soon after the return of Chief Justice SHC Sarmad Jalal Usmani the matter would be resolved.
“Recently, a delegation met with Justice Musheer Alam and asked about the petition. Member Investigation Team Abdul Malik Guddi asked us to come to his office so that we could submit the file to Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmani. When we contacted Guddi about the file he said that he has come to know that the file was on the table of Assistant Registrar of Budget Branch since the last one year. When we further pressed, he said that it is a policy matter and asked us to leave the office,” Nasir added.
He also disclosed that the protesting staff was also issued threatening notes by superior court judges through the District and Session Judges so that they would withdraw from their demands. “The judges furthermore also asked for the names of those who are active in the protests,” he alleged.
The judicial staff of the lower court has also appealed to the President, Prime Minister Chief Justice of Pakistan and the chief justice of SHC to consider the matter on priority basis. The association further requested the members of all Bar Associations to support the lower judiciary staff in their demands.
Thousands of judicial staff members of the Sindh Law Department have been waiting for up gradation for the last 27 years from grade 10 to 15 as the Sindh Finance Department has lost the file of about thousands of clerks and readers of the department, The News has learnt from reliable sources.
On July 6, 1982, the Section Officer (SR-II), Secretary to Sindh government, Finance Department, issued a notification bearing No. FD (SR.II) 1454/ 71(Vol. IV), addressing the District & Sessions Judges in Sindh, captioned ‘Grant of NSP 11 To All Assistants of Grade 10 in the Sindh Secretariat and Non-Secretariat’. The provincial finance department failed to communicate the notification relating to the law department and the cadres of COC/Nazir and readers have still not changed and the staff is still working in BPS 8. There are 26 districts in Sindh and each district has about 35 or more judicial staff working in the courts.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Law Department’s COC/ Reader/ Nazir are equal to the cadre of Assistant in other government department and are supposed to be in BPS 10. However, the cadre of COC/Nazir & Readers has not been mentioned in the notifications and only Assistant of BPS-10 is mentioned therein. Hence the COC/ Nazir and Readers are still placed in BPS-10 as opposed to BPS 14.
Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary (SR-1) for Secretary to Sindh government, Finance Department, issued another notification bearing No. FD(SR.IV)-2/62/77(C.O.C.) on August 8,1991 which stated, ‘The Clerk of Court has been up-graded from BPS 11 to BPS 15 in the District and Sessions Judges in Sindh’. However, this notification has also not yet been implemented and the COC/ Nazir once again remain unprivileged because the prior notification dated July 6, 1982 was not executed as the notification did not mention cadre of Nazir.
Interestingly, a notification dated March 12, 1987 was issued by Sindh Finance Department’s secretary, FD(SR IV)2(62)77 which stated that the Readers have been up-graded from BPS 8 to BPS 10 in the district and sessions courts of the province. The notification was implemented in the department but the other notification about the upgradation from BPS 10 to BPS 11 is not available in the record.