Monday February 06, 2023

SHC dismisses plea of FST’s ex-chairman for pensionary benefits

January 25, 2023

The Sindh High Court has dismissed a petition filed by a former chairman of the Federal Service Tribunal for the release of pensionary benefits.

Qazi Khalid Ali requested the grant of pensionary benefits, saying that he was appointed FST chairman on April 22, 2019 for a non-extendable period of three years with effect from the date of assuming charge of the post, stipulating his entitlement to such a pay, allowances and perquisites as admissible to a high court judge as may be prescribed from time to time.

He submitted that the secretary of the ministry of law regretted the representation of the petitioner for the grant of a pension when he approached the ministry after completing the term.

The counsel said that the petitioner had served in various official positions for an aggregate period of 20 years from March 12, 2003 to April 4, 2022 in various capacities, such as an additional advocate general, a judge of the Sindh High Court from November 4, 2007 till August 2, 2009, a professor of law at the Sindh Muslim Law College, and the founding vice chancellor of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto University of Law, and he is entitled to a pension and pensionary benefits under the President Order 1997.

The federal law officer opposed the petition, submitting that the appointment of the petitioner was term-based and not regular; hence, he is not entitled to a pension. He submitted that the petitioner’s holding of other offices such as that of the additional advocate general were contractual and governed by separate considerations and rules wholly independent of office of the FST chairman that do not make him entitled to a pension. He further argued that there was no law to consider the term of an individual in all such different and distinct offices aggregately and extend its benefit to him in the shape of a pension.

A division bench comprising Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Justice Adnanul Karim Memon, after hearing the arguments of the counsel, observed that the contention of the petitioner that he held various posts and was entitled to a pension was not sustainable in the law. It observed that all the positions enjoyed by the petitioner have been, at the most, contractual/tenure-based in nature and governed, undisputedly, by separate considerations and rules.

The court observed that these contractual offices held by the petitioner, even if considered aggregately (which cannot be done under a law) or separately, utterly independent of the office of the FST chairman, do not make him entitled to the right to a pension under any law.

It further said the office of the FST chairman, term-based as it is and contractual in nature plus, does not confer any right to a pension upon the petitioner either. The court observed that the petitioner has not served against any permanent or regular job, not to mention his lack of qualification, not completing minimum qualifying service of five years to claim a pension, and dismissed the petition.