ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court held that under Civil Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 2020 major penalty of reduction to a lower post and pay scale from the substantive or regular post on civil servant can be subject to a maximum of three years.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar heard an appeal against the Federal Service Tribunal verdict.
The appellant, Muhammad Shafique, was performing his duties as Deputy National Saving Officer (BPS-16) at National Saving Center-1, Dera Ismail Khan.
He was issued a charge sheet on 30th June 2015 with the allegations that on 12th November 2014, a client came to his centre for encashing prize bonds of Rs15,000, Rs7,500, and Rs25,000 denominations and handed over the prize bonds to the appellant for payment.
The appellant recorded the numbers of the prize bonds in his day book, secretly, and handed over the said prize bonds to Shah Imran, JNSO for checking.
It was further alleged that Shah Imran, JNSO, returned the said prize bonds to the appellant but prize bond No 053047 of Rs25,000 was missing, later on, it was disclosed that the said missing prize bond had won the prize of Rs50 million in the 3rd draw held on November 01, 2012 at Hyderabad.
The inquiry committee found Muhammad Shafique guilty of misusing his official capacity and recommended to the appellant authority appropriate administrative action against the appellant. He was demoted from BPS-16 to lower post of Assistant National Savings Officer (BPS-14). The Service Tribunal rejected his appeal.
The appellant; therefore, approached the apex court contending that the penalty of reduction to lower post of Assistant National Savings Officer (BPS-14) vide order dated 13.01.2016, was required to contain the period for which such penalty was to maintain.
The judgment authored by Justice Mazhar stated that the provision in Fundamental Rule-29 explicates that the reduction order shall state the period for which it shall be effective and whether on restoration, it shall operate to postpone future increments and if so, to what extent.
The FR-29 says; “If a Government servant is, on account of misconduct or inefficiency, reduced to a lower grade or post, or to a lower stage in his time-scale, the authority ordering such reduction shall state the period for which it shall be effective and whether, on restoration, it shall operate to postpone future increments and if so, to what extent.
The judgment observed that in the E&D Rules 1973, there was no provision that while imposing major penalty for reduction to a lower post or time scale, the period for which it shall be effective should be mentioned in the order. However, the Civil Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 2020, which repealed Government Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) 1973 contain this provision.
It noted that the Rule 4 of 2020 Rules related to the minor and major penalties. Its Sub-Rule (3) Clause (a) to (e) provides different genera of major penalties and predominantly, Clause (b) is pertinent to the reduction to a lower post and pay scale from the substantive or regular post with specific period subject to a maximum of three years.
The said under Civil Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 2020 major penalty of reduction to a lower post and pay scale from the substantive or regular post now can be subject to a maximum of three years but at the time of deciding the case of the appellant’s misconduct, no such provision was available in the E&D Rules 1973; hence, no retrospective effect of rules promulgated in 2020 can be given in the appellant case. The court declined to interfere with the tribunal judgment on merits of the case.
However, it directed the competent authority to consider the appellant’s prayer with regard to FR 29 and fix the specific period of reduction to lower post within one month of compliance with FR-29.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021