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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has ruled that female officers of the Federal Investigative Agency are also part of the investigation branch of the FIA.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Yahya Afridi, declared that on an appeal against the verdict of the Federal Service Tribunal (FST). The bench upheld the FST’s decision directing the FIA to issue a combined seniority list.

A combined seniority list of both male and female inspectors of the FIA was challenged before the FST, under the clause, which stated that the female inspectors of the FIA were more suited to work in the immigration wing rather than the investigation wing as they did not meet the pre-requisites and lacked experience.

The FST had dismissed the petitioner’s appeal on June 23, 2020, by primarily relying on an unreported order on January 12, 2016, of a two-member bench of the apex court that was passed on a civil petition in 2015. The dismissal was subsequently challenged in the apex court.

Hasan Mehmood Mandviwalla, who had represented the female officers (respondents) prayed that the combined list was only issued to undermine, side-line and deprive his clients of their due right of getting promoted within the investigation wing of the agency.

The apex court in its ruling further remarked that though the learned counsel, the SC had read the order passed in Civil Petition No 1259 of 2015. Leaving aside the controversy whether the same had a binding effect on the Tribunal in terms of Article 189 of the Constitution we proceeded to consider the case on merits.

“There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex,” the verdict read, wherein, the counsel refers to Article 25(2) of the Constitution. “It would be highly discriminatory if the said respondents, who are all female officers, are excluded from the Investigation group as this would violate their said Fundamental Right which prescribes against discrimination on the basis of sex.”

It further stated that the matter was relatively simple and the federal government has the power, under rule 12 of the Rules, to add to or modify the said six groups but has not exercised such power to make the said immigration wing into a distinct group, and one separate from the investigation group.

The petitioner counsel, Malik Naeem Iqbal, contention was that the Additional Director General’s Committee of FIA had recommended the creation of just such a separate group and its recommendation was approved by the director-general FIA. However, even if this had happened, it is only the federal government that can create a separate group under -rule 12 of the Rules.

The SC judgment said the Tribunal had earlier decided the matter of combined/separate seniority list/s and its decision attained finality when leave to appeal (as mentioned above) had been declined by this Court (SC),” the verdict further stated.

The petitioner counsel referred to rule 12 of the Rules and states that it sets out different groups subsisting within FIA and these are, (i) Investigation, (ii) Accounts, (iii) Customs, (iv) Income-tax, (v) Engineering, and (vi) Legal and that from the very beginning Immigration was part and parcel of the Investigation group.

He, however, admitted that rule 12 empowers the Federal Government to add to or modify the said six groups but it has not done so till date.

The bench, in view of the arguments by the counsels of both the parties, declined leave to appeal, consequently, the petition is dismissed.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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