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LAHORE: The lower ranking officers of the Punjab Prisons Department have expressed their serious reservations over the alleged move of the provincial bureaucracy of trying to create a huge disparity in the salaries of gazetted and non-gazetted officials.

In an application handed over to Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz during his visit to Kot Lakhpat Jail a couple of days ago, the jail officials alleged that the provincial bureaucracy was planning to propose a “huge relief” for the gazetted officers of the Punjab Prisons while neglecting the lower ranking officers.

The application, a copy of which is available with Business Recorder, drew attention of Hamza to the fact that his father, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, during his visit to the Kot Lakhpat Jail last month had directed the authorities concerned to prepare a proposal for introducing reforms in the Punjab Prisons, including raising salaries of the officials at par with the Punjab Police personnel.

“Despite the PM’s direction, we want to inform you that unfortunately there were efforts under way to create a huge disparity in the salaries of lower ranking officers,” the application claims. According to it, the prisons employees from grade-1 to grade-16 would only get an increase of Rs 3000 to Rs 5000, respectively, while the grade-17 and above officers would get a minimum benefit of Rs 70,000 to Rs 120,000, respectively, in their salaries.

The jail officials said the authorities concerned are trying to give ‘extraordinary’ relief to the senior officers while neglecting the juniors. They asked CM Hamza to thoroughly review the proposal which will shortly be placed before him for approval. They also requested the CM to rationalize salaries of assistant and deputy superintendent jails.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz has constituted a committee to bring reforms in the Punjab Prisons with former PTI estranged leader Aleem Khan as its convener.

According to the notification, other members of the committee are MPAs Salman Rafique, Ayesha Chaudhry, Aneeza Fatima and Ali Raza Shah. It will also include additional chief secretary (home), additional secretary prison, and members of the civil society.

As per the terms of references (ToRs), the committee shall examine the state of prisons in Punjab and prepare recommendations for immediate improvements in the prisons system, with a particular focus on the welfare of the prisoners and strengthening management. It will also carry out consultations with relevant stakeholders, including inmates to identify pressing issues relating to the prisons and offer proposals for improvements, to identify gaps in the existing prisons legislation and administrative practices, and propose plausible and pragmatic revisions therein.

The committee will also devise ways to make more effective the Punjab Sentencing Council, established under the Punjab Sentencing Act 2019 and Punjab Probation and Parole Service, and also assess the current status of vulnerable prisoners and propose measures for their welfare. It will also review problem of overcrowding in prisons and make recommendations for rationalizing prisons population. It will also devise ways and means to provide the prisoners with basic facilities, suitable environment, including accommodation health education recreation and food facilities which are commensurate with internationally accepted standards.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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