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December 8, 2018

‘Bureaucracy’s adherence to rule of law must for economic revival’

Islamabad

December 8, 2018

Islamabad : Ensuring adherence to the rule of law by the bureaucracy and promoting a legal culture of supporting public functionaries would be an important element in the government’s efforts to revive the country’s economy.

Noted lawyer and President of Research Society of International Law (RSIL) Ahmer Bilal Soofi made these remarks while presiding over the launch of a publication titled ‘Good Decision-Making under Pakistani Law: A Guide for Civil Servants.’ The manual has been produced by RSIL in collaboration with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS).

The publication contains simple and practical guidance for civil servants, based on an exhaustive review of latest judicial precedents of the superior courts in Pakistan along with illustrative case studies. It has been produced with a view to improve the quality of administrative decision-making and mitigate the chances of these decisions being challenged in courts.

Soofi, while noting the importance of clarity among bureaucrats about laws related to the decisions that they take, observed that today’s bureaucrats operate in a challenging environment and should be supported when making decisions for the country’s betterment. “They need to be given confidence and that would come when the file-work of that decision making is clear,” he stated while also calling for determining the framework of good faith indemnity that is available to bureaucrats. The prime minister’s taskforce on bureaucratic reforms, he suggested, needs to look into this.

Discussing the need for transparent and accountable decision making which could withstand scrutiny at all levels, Soofi reminded the participants that when civil servants appear before courts as respondents, the first question put to them is that under which law was that decision taken. “If you are able to produce that law, you are safe, otherwise the court would grill you, pass a stricture, or even strike down the order itself,” he maintained. He advised the bureaucrats to be adequately equipped to handle decision making so that they can avoid problems before the courts and associated liability.

The publication’s primary author Barrister Amna Abbas gave an overview of the contents of the publication. The first section of the book titled ‘Administrative Law and Judicial Review’ provides readers with basic concepts of administrative law that are necessary to improve decision making. The second section of the report dwells upon the ‘Fundamental Concepts Governing the Exercise of Administrative Authority.’ This included a discussion on concepts such as reasonableness, lawfulness, arbitrariness, procedural fairness, and mala fides. She said the subsequent sections examined case law of the Superior Courts in detail, extrapolating the most critical lessons for civil servants in the exercise of their duties. T

Fawad Haider of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung underlined the importance of efficient and effective governance for the government to execute its work in public interest. “This manual aims at improving the understanding of civil servants of the legal processes involved in judicial review and assists functionaries to determine the legal consequences of their actions,” Haider said.

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