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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court asked the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) to assist, that when Sacked Employees (Reinstatement) Act, 2010 has been declared ultra vires, then what would be the fate of the Ordinance 2009, through which the majority of the affected employees were reinstated.

Justice Mushir Alam, before his retirement (August 17, 2021), delivered the judgment declaring the Act 2010 ultra vires and said the effect of such a declaration is that any/ all the benefits accrued to be beneficiaries are to be ceased with immediate effect. “The beneficiaries of the Act, 2010, who are still in service, will go back to their previous positions, i.e., to date when the operation of the Act 2010 has taken effect,” the judgment further said.

A five-judge larger bench, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, on Wednesday heard the review petitions of the federal government and the sacked employees against its judgment.

The presiding judge, at the conclusion of the proceeding, raised many questions and asked AGP Khalid Jawed Khan to assist the court on them. He said out of 16,000 sacked employees the majority of them were restored through The Sacked Employees’ (Reinstatement) Ordinance, 2009 and not the Act 2010.

The bench questioned, if the Act 2010 is declared ultra vires then what would be the fate of Ordinance 2009 through that majority of the sacked employees were restored.

It directed the AGP to make classification of the sacked employees, who were reinstated under the Act and those restored through the Ordinance.

The attorney general was also asked to categorise the sacked workers of the government and the semi-autonomous bodies. He was further asked whether the inductions were made after adopting the procedure laid down as Aitzaz Ahsan and Sardar Latif Khosa have claimed.

The attorney general further asked to assist regarding the appointments criteria of the government laws, and of the semi-autonomous bodies own statutes. The court noted that different standards were set, and questioned whether those standards were followed. It said many appointments were made discriminatory. It asked what should be the standard to examine that law (Act), which the apex court had declared ultra vires.

The court further noted that many petitioners have worked in the organisations for 10 years. It questioned should the benefit go to the employees, who have worked for 10 years under the law, which was passed against the Constitution.

Justice Bandial said even if the law was unconstitutional but it was not the fault of the petitioners who served the government department for 10 years.

Justice Bandial said the impugned judgment in his opinion was passed with conscious mind, adding the Parliament can pass any law, but it need to be mindful that those laws are not against the Constitution.

During the hearing, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah questioned when the Act is struck down then what is the constitutionality of the ordinance promulgated by the PPP government for the restoration of the sacked employees in 2009 and 2010.

Shehbaz Ali Khan Khosa, co-counsel of 65 SNGPL and 161 sacked workers of the State Life Insurance Corporation, pleaded that the Act in toto cannot be struck down, adding if some of its sections are against the Fundamental Rights then those could be declared void.

He said his clients were reinstated through Ordinances and not the Act. He said that after the impugned judgment they approached the Lahore High Court (LHC) for relief, but because of this bench order dated 11 November 2021 they have filed the petition in the Supreme Court. He apprised that the apex court in its 11th November order had stated that as its hearing the review petitions against the impugned judgment; therefore, those who are aggrieved can file the petitions.

Sardar Latif Khosa, main lawyer of the SNGPL and the State Life Corporation sacked employees, said whenever the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) came to power it provided jobs to the peoples, but the successive governments removed them. He said the political culture has to change.

When the bench inquired to show the termination letter of the SNGPL and State Life, Latif Khosa submitted that the Establishment Division directed all the departments to remove the workers employed during 1993 to 1996 by the PPP government. He said a dictator has removed the judges of superior courts, but for the first time in history they were restored through an executive order.

Justice Bandial asked the counsel to show us the advertisement that shows criteria was followed that the persons employed were not overage at that time, and met the requisite qualification.

Justice Sajjad Ali Shah said the majority of the sacked employees were either ad-hoc, temporary or trainees, and they were removed from their services upon completion of their contracts. He questioned why the PPP government did not regularise them.

Latif Khosa replied his clients were regular employees.

Upon that Justice Sajjad asked the counsel to show the employees’ contracts or the appointment letters.

The case was adjourned until today (Thursday).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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