SC judgement on irregular promotions
The Judgement annulling the irregular promotion to the highest grade in the Civil Service was an indication of misuse of power by the Government. It must be said that the SC Judgement has restored the morale of the services. It is not just the officers who have benefited from it but has given the services the hope that their rules will be implemented.
One must express astonishment on the epidemic in the recent governments of enormous increase in all top posts on political side as well as on bureaucratic side. In the old days one did not have 54 BSP-22 officers in the entire Pakistan , provincial and federal governments combined . Ours is a government which conceives in mega numbers, largest cabinet, number of advisers to the President & P M, largest number of BSP-22 officers, and so on so forth, inordinate number of ministries etc.
This article underlines that in both the cases what caused the problem in irregular promotions and the PIMS strike was a fallacious approach that the political bosses can interpret the rules disregarding how the two key words had been practiced in the past. .
In the case of the promotions annulled by the Supreme Court it was assumed that the Prime Minister has the “discretion” to decide which officer he could promote irrespective of the consideration of his seniority , and in the case of removal of the Executive Director he had the “prerogative” of suspending her.
It may be emphasized that “discretion” does not mean “whim”. Discretion means where the suitability of the persons concerned are evenly balanced, then it is left to the Prime Minister to decide which one should be promoted. It is like you are asked to decide which is the best stone out of so many diamonds then you in your honest view but entirely personal view such and such is the best diamond . It does not mean that you pick up a stone from some where else and declare it the best. Similarly “prerogative “ to suspend a senior officer has to be based on some solid adverse enquiry report and not just on a momentary whimsical decision.
In properly constituted governments, even in India –why go to the advanced states in the West- rights of working people do not exclude the rights of salaried Government servants.” The civil servant earning his living by serving the State is not a personal servant of any body, he may be the president or prime minister or a minister. For example the designation of the Secretary of a Federal Government is “Secretary to the Government of Pakistan” – not any individual . It is unfortunate that the press has taken to the practice of writing “ President so and so or Prime Minister so and so has appointed so and so as such and such’. It is not a personal gift of the President or Prime Minister but by the office of President or Prime Minister because these powers are enjoyed by virtue of the office they hold and when they are not holding those appointments they have no powers to appoint any body on any post. Not as an individual in his personal capacity but only as long as he is holder of that august office he has that power and only till then.The point is that regular services are in existence since long time, and are governed by rules and regulations. In India the services have retained the independence they inherited as their tradition from their predecessors. Only in Pakistan they have been losing that independence they manifested in the early days of independence. It is necessary to respect what the ‘English’ called ‘conventions’ and which were considered by them as having the force of law . There is a tendency in the present Governments to treat lightly the well established practices and conventions . This can cause much damage like in the current situation in the PIMS considered the best ‘public’ hospital in Pakistan, treating 4000 out door patients daily. One should not create disturbances by treating them lightly.
On this occasion one may recall the Quaid’s instructions to the Civil servants to work in accordance with the rules without doing favour to any body. Exact words are hung in the Secretariat in many places. A State has a government and a structure that enforces the writ of a Government. There are two institutions which are so to say the structure of the State and Government. Armed Forces and the civil servants of all category. Armed Forces are called the iron will of a nation and civil servants the machinery of the system. Judiciary is not subservient to the State being an independent organ ; it cannot be described as part of the structure of the Government . What a certain section of the press has called “baboos” are only the file keepers, typists, managing the papers etc. Civil services at higher and top echelons have always included the experts in governance in several fields including highly technical subjects. There importance was illustrated by Benard Lewis, the Orientalist in certain translation of old texts of Muslim era. He narrates that Abul Abbas El-Saffah after toppling the Ummaya Caliphate had sworn of a certain expert on revenues that he will have him beheaded. The official was put in the prison. The Abbaside rule soon found it was going bankrupt. Someone suggested to recall that former expert from the prison and seek his advice to stop this bankruptcy. The person was brought out from the prison and problem posed to him. He said do this and this, you have put so and so on posts , remove them as they know nothing of revenue and the local situation etc. The man was sent back to prison and el Saffah acted on his advise and the situation started to improve. El Saffah had the expert on revenue brought out from the prison and said, I had sworn on the Holy Quran to behead you. Tell me how I get out of that oath and appoint you as head of Finance. Prejudiced minds will never accept the truth that if Ayub’s era was counted by the world press as an example to other developing Third World who were behind that accept it or not “ Miracle”.
From the time organized rules were established the importance of the experts in state affairs is recognized in all civilizations. Chinese, Hindu, Zoroastrian, and later in Islam there have been tomes on government administration, whether in Chankya’s Arth Shaster, Mancius’, or in Arabic books . Kitabel Wuzara wa el Kuttab ( Book on Ministers and Secretaries, written by El-Jihsheari, ( Abi Abdellah Mohammed bin Abdou s b. 310 AH -345 AH) and- and El Wuzara –Tuhfatel Umra fi Tarikh el Wuzara by Es-Ssabi , Abi Hassan el Hilal bin el Mohsin- b. 359 s. 448 AH ,, or Ghazzali’s “Nasihat el Muluk” or Nizam ul Mulk Tusi’s Syaset Nama etc Experts in services are the pillars of a system , not :baboos”
It is important that matters regarding old rules, conventions and practices be handled carefully not in an over simplified manner. May I quote what Aristotle has said on conventions. He says in Politics “ The habit of lightly changing the laws is an evil, some defects whether in the law or in the rules had better be met with philosophoic toleration “to pass lightly from old laws to new ones is a certain way of weakening the experience of ages ; surely , in the multitude of years , these things if they were not good would not have remained unknown” ( See Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy , page 64). The naming of Sarhad as “Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa” is an illustration of this wisdom even after over two thousand Years.