close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
April 19, 2018

Provinces demand withdrawal of ECP ban on recruitments

Top Story

April 19, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The ban imposed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on fresh recruitments in the government departments ahead of the upcoming parliamentary polls has apparently been impinged hard on at least three provincial administrations run by opposing political parties, prompting them to challenge it in the high courts.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which rules Sindh, has also spoken against the restriction through Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah, urging the ECP to defer the ban on recruitments until the election date is announced. The ECP is of the view that the ban on fresh recruitment in all the federal and provincial government departments is clamped to ensure transparency in the forthcoming parliamentary polls. However, while introducing it, the ECP did not cite any provision of the Constitution or the Elections Act on the force of which it acted.

Under Section 5 of the Elections Act, after the election programme (schedule) has been issued and till the publication of the names of the returned candidates in the official Gazette, any government or authority shall not post or transfer any official appointed or deputed in connection with an election without prior approval in writing of the ECP, including posting or transfer the decision in respect whereof has not been implemented, and the ECP may itself issue necessary directions to any such government or authority for the posting or transfer of any official. The provision further says it shall be the duty of all the executive authorities in the federal and the provincial governments to render such assistance to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and the ECP in the discharge of his or its functions as may be required by them. The federal and provincial governments shall make available to the ECP such staff as it may require for the performance of its functions. These are vast powers given to the ECP by the Elections Act, but nowhere does the statute mention any of its authority to ban fresh recruitments or allocation of development funds.

The governments of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan have also made it known that they are equally hurt by the embargo and have independently disputed it in the three high courts. However, the federal government is silent on the bar and has not questioned it at any judicial forum. It appears that the ECP acted in haste because the ban was enforced much before the unfolding of the election schedule, which will be unveiled sometime in June after the caretaker governments will come in place, a couple of weeks earlier.

Khursheed Shah was critical of the ECP for imposing the temporary ban, effective from April 1, on the recruitment of public servants and the allocation of funds for development schemes until elections are held, saying this is an unprecedented decision. “Its timing is unhelpful and it should have come into force only after the election date is announced. These actions are appreciated; however, such orders seem to have been issued too early. Blocking the funds would affect the smooth running of government affairs,” he wrote to the ECP.

The Balochistan government, in its petition filed in the provincial high court, sought quashment of the ECP order, allowing it to make new recruitments in the government departments till May 31. The Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti through lawyer Kamran Murtaza contended before the high court that ending the sense of deprivation among the youth of Balochistan is the provincial government’s responsibility and in order to do so it has to provide jobs. For the last a couple of years, doctors and teachers have been protesting against the lack of job opportunities in government departments across Balochistan. “The ban is tantamount to pre-poll rigging as the ECP has no right to ban new recruitments and development funds. It’s our mandate which can’t be snatched before May 31,” the lawyer argued.

In its plea filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC), the Punjab chief secretary through his lawyer stated that the ECP cannot restrict the executive authorities from exercising its powers which are in accordance with the Constitution. “The restrictions have adversely impacted the working of government departments. It is imperative to have a required workforce for the smooth discharge of administrative duties.”

The KP Minister for Prisons Malik Qasim Khan who belongs to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) disputed the ban through his lawyer Barrister Waqar Ahmad in the Peshawar High Court (PHC). He stated that the ECP restriction before giving out the election schedule is illegal and against the law. There is a dire need for police personnel to be recruited. He pointed out that thousands of candidates have already taken tests through the National Testing Service and said interviews have been conducted but their appointments were stopped at the last stage due to the ban. The minister said there is need for fresh appointments in various departments due to shortage of employees. He requested the PHC to declare the ban void and unlawful.