October 20, 2016Print : Peshawar
PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government would regularise the services of 862 teaching assistants through a piece of legislation that in the opinion of Law Department is violation of the Constitution and nullification of a Supreme Court judgment.
The provincial assembly secretariat has already been directed to put the bill seeking regularisation of the teaching assistants on the agenda for Monday for which the opinion of the advocate general has exceptionally been obtained.
The documents, including the copy of the draft bill, legal opinions of the Law Department and advocate general, letters of assembly secretariat, Higher Education, Archives and Libraries Department shared with The News indicated the intention of the government to regularise the services of teaching assistants appointed by it on fixed salary basis.
The members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, Meraj Humayun Khan, Sardar Muhammad Idrees and Mehmood Jan sought to introduce a private member bill to regularise the services of the.
The draft bill reads, “The Higher Education, Archives and Libraries Department appointed 862 teaching assistants through various notifications from October 31, 2014 to December 2, 2015 who are discharging duties in various colleges of the province.”
The bill, it said, was the outcome of the report of the standing committee on Higher Education, Archives and Libraries Department that was adopted by the House on March 28 to regularise teaching assistants.
However, the provincial assembly had to send the bill to the Law Department for its legal opinion as any money bill (having financial implications) cannot be presented in the housing without vetting by the Law Department.
The Law Department in its opinion on August 31advised the Higher Education, Archives and Libraries Department not to convey the “consent” of the government for introduction, consideration and passage of the bill.
It cited a number of factors including a judgment of the Supreme Court which ruled that no non-civil servant could be absorbed as civil servant to cadre post without undertaking the competitive process under the Recruitment Rules.It opined that the bill would be violation of Article 240 of the Constitution under which the field has already been occupied by Civil Servants Act 1973.
The Law Department noted that “no teaching assistant has ever been appointed by the Public Service Commission so far and “the bill in hand is legislation in absorption of the Teaching Assistant(s) as Lecturers would amount to nullifying the mentioned judgment of the apex court. Hence no such Private Member’s bill can be introduced in the provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for legislation.”
The provincial assembly secretariat, through a letter on September 2, conveyed the opinion of the Law Department to the Higher Education, Archives and Libraries Department and asked it to respond to the provincial assembly not to convey “consent” of the government for introduction of the bill in the assembly.
The Higher Education, Archives and Libraries Department on September 16 submitted to the provincial assembly that it couldn’t assent the introduction of the bill in the wake of the legal bars pinpointed by the Law Department.
However, the matter didn’t stop here and the assistant secretary (x) of the provincial assembly on October 4 sent the bill to the advocate general, who tendered his opinion on the same on October 18, saying the bill couldn’t be withheld on any of the technical objection raised by the Law Department.
His (advocate general) opinion, as referred to by an official of the assembly secretariat, sounds more of political favour than legal opinion as besides legal replies to the points raised by the Law Department, the advocate general also praised the way the teaching assistants were recruited by the provincial government and expressed the fear that “discontinuation of their services among other factors may also affect the incumbents”.
He opined that no barricade exists in introduction of the proposed legislation in the provincial assembly.A high-ranking officer in the assembly secretariat said that for the first time the opinion of the advocate general would override the opinion of the Law Department on a money bill introduced in the house.
He thought the bill’s introduction would lead to complications for various other departments where employees had been recruited on contract and fixed-salary basis against the cadre posts.“It may open a Pandora’s box for the government as other contractual employees working against cadre posts may also ask for similar legislation to get regularised,” he added.