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Withdrawal of the 'controversial' amendment in Civil Servants (Appointment, Promotion and Transfer) Rules, 1973, which made balloting mandatory in inductions in the federal government departments from BPS 1 to 5 is not on the government's agenda, informed sources in the Establishment Division told this correspondent.
Prime Minister Imran Khan issued directions through Cabinet Secretariat in notification number F.No.3/2/2017-R-2 dated June 17, 2019, to amend the Civil Servants (Appointment, Promotion and Transfer) Rules, 1973, paving the way for balloting in inductions from Basic Pay Scale (BPS) 1 to 5, sources added.
The amended Rule 16 of Civil Servants (Appointment, Promotion and Transfer) Rules, 1973 read, "Vacancies in posts in basic pay scales 1 to 5 and equivalent shall ordinarily be filled through balloting." Before this amendment Rule 16 read, "Vacancies in posts in basic pay scales 1 and 2 and equivalent shall ordinarily be filled through balloting."
The source said that improvement in the balloting process can eliminate favouritism but admitted that this practice cannot ensure merit-based appointments. "In my opinion, balloting is like a lottery. It picks people at random regardless of their professional standing and merit.
It is quite possible that a candidate highly qualified for any particular job gets ignored and a least qualified candidate gets selected through balloting. This is the main reason the aggrieved candidates move courts when they are ignored in balloting. The inductions in both public and private sectors should be made through a comprehensive process that ensures merit-based appointments. Shortcuts like balloting are not the solution. They need to be avoided," he said.
The PM has not indicated any intent to withdraw the amendment in Rule 16 and put an end to balloting, the official said, in spite of reports of 'rigged' balloting in different government departments benefiting blue-eyed candidates backed by powerful government officials.
In October 2019, the Pakistan Railways Employees (PREM) moved Lahore High Court (LHC) against 845 recruitments in Pakistan Railways from BPS 1 to 5 alleging that more than half of the inducted employees belonged to the political constituencies of Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid and his nephew in Rawalpindi - an event to which the media was not invited. "One gets amazed to note that out of almost 29 constituencies of the National Assembly from Rawalpindi division (i.e. Pakistan Railways Division), more than half of the candidates remained successful from just the two constituencies of Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and his nephew MNA Sheikh Rashid Shafiq," the petition stated.
Entertaining the petition, the LHC granted stay order against the inductions in Pakistan Railways. Business Recorder tried to contact the railways minister for his version on the matter but he was not available till the filing of this report.
An official close to the railways minister, when contacted, said the government implemented computerised balloting in the inductions in government departments keeping in view the huge influx of applications. "There are a maximum number of applicants for low cadres in government departments.
Whenever a government post is advertised, thousands of applicants apply in the hope of getting the job. And this number simply multiplies when the posts for lower cadres are advertised given that majority of the population is eligible only for lower cadre posts. In such a situation, computerised balloting is the best solution as it can take care of thousands of applications speedily while ensuring transparency and neutrality."
He denied that railways minister was complicit in hiring more than half of the applicants from his constituency saying "the number is far lesser than reported in the press" but did not provide the actual data.
The official admitted that there might be certain loopholes in balloting process that can be improved through a more scientific approach. "The services of government bodies like NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) can be hired to improve computerised balloting. But to say that the entire process is flawed or controversial is not correct," he said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020