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Wednesday April 24, 2024

IHC stays process of appointment of chief economist

The petitioner had not been considered for promotion to the vacant post

By Mehtab Haider
February 18, 2024
A view of the Islamabad High Court building. — Geo News/File
A view of the Islamabad High Court building. — Geo News/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has granted a stay order for halting the process of appointment of the country’s Chief Economist and ordered that no appointment would be made on the impugned advertisement till the next date of hearing.

The senior most officer of the Economist Group, Rai Nasir Ali, a Grade-21 officer, who had done MS/MPA in Economic Policy Management from Colombia University, USA, approached the IHC after the publication of an advertisement seeking applications for appointment of Chief Economist. He prayed before the court that he was elevated to the position of Joint Chief Economist (BS-21) in the Ministry of Planning, Development, and Reforms in 2018 and then on 14-12-2021, the petitioner’s services were transferred to the Establishment Division where he remains to date.

He prayed before the court that despite being the most senior in his cadre, the petitioner had not been considered for promotion to the vacant post.

He further stated that Syed Ejaz Ali Wasti, the petitioner’s predecessor, was promoted to the same post on 06-12-2018 following these regulations. He also cited that vide No. 2(2)/EG/Ad.II/PD/2016 dated 18-09-2019, it was confirmed that the post of Chief Economist (BS-22) was lying vacant because none of the officers of BS-21 in Economist Group was eligible because of lack of experience of five (05) years in BS-21.

The post of Chief Economist is a promotion post according to S.R.O. 46(KE)/82 04-12-1984 & S.R.O. 974(I)/2011 dated 15-10-2011. However, the authorities in violation of rules and regulations are appointing officers on contract basis.

The office Memorandum No. 7/9/2001-R-6 dated 17-09-2020 clearly stated that “Special Professional Pay Scale-II, being contract posts, cannot be incorporated in the Recruitment Rules of Economist Group notified vide SRO.NO.46(KE)/84 and framed under Sub-Rule(2) of Rule 3 of Civil Servants (Appointment, Promotion and Transfer) Rules, 1973, being exclusively meant for Civil Servants.” However, on 11-12-2020 vide no. 1/75/2020-E-6 Dr. Muhammad Ahmad (SPPS-II) was appointed as the Chief Economist for one year.

Based on certain grounds, the petitioner stated that arbitrarily denying the petitioner the opportunity for promotion to the vacant BS-22 post despite his seniority, eligibility, and fulfillment of all criteria is a violation of his right to fair and equal treatment, enshrined in Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

According to Ubi jus ibi remedium (Where there is a right, there is a remedy) the petitioner has the right to seek judicial remedy for the violation of his fundamental rights.

That not considering the petitioner for promotion while promoting his predecessor under identical circumstances constitutes unlawful discrimination based on unknown and potentially mala fide reasons.

That the placement of the petitioner’s services at the Establishment Division appears to be a deliberate attempt to circumvent his legitimate claim to promotion and constitutes an abuse of power by the responsible authorities. Further, appointment on a contract basis at the post of Chief Economist is against the promotion rules and regulations.

That initiating unsubstantiated inquiries and not completing within sixty days as per Civil Servant (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 2020 as a pretext to deny the petitioner his rightful promotion is mala fide and violates his right to due process enshrined in Article 10A of the Constitution. As per Ex nihilo nihil fit (Out of nothing, nothing comes), unsubstantiated inquiries cannot be used to justify the denial of a rightful promotion.

That repeated requests to be considered for promotion by the High-Powered Selection Board have been unheeded, demonstrating the continued disregard for the petitioner’s rights and legitimate claim. According to Nemo dat quod non habet (No one can give what they do not have), the authorities cannot deny the petitioner a promotion he is rightfully entitled to.

In light of the foregoing, it is respectfully prayed that this Honourable Court may be pleased to direct the concerned authorities to consider the petitioner for promotion to the post of Chief Economist (BS-22) in the next High Powered Selection Board, declare the denial of promotion to the petitioner as discriminatory and in violation of the fundamental right of equality, quash any frivolous inquiries initiated against the petitioner with respect to his promotion and grant any other relief that this Honourable Court deems fit and just in the circumstances.