While questioning sheer violation of procedure in filling slots of project directors in the provincial infrastructure development projects, Chief Justice of Balochistan High Court (BHC) Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail on Monday granted two-week time to the chief secretary for submission of reply in the matter.
Challenging the act of Planning and Development Department of Balochistan in appointing deputy commissioners as project directors instead of engineers in grave violation of Pakistan Engineering Council Act 1979, Advocates Aimal Khan Kakar and Umer Ijaz Gilani had urged the BHC to issue directives to the provincial government for appropriately qualified engineers appointment against the slots in the province.
Appearing before the division bench of the BHC comprising Chief Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Muhammad Kamran Khan Mulakhail on behalf of PEC the counsels apprised the court that the provincial government has appointed bureaucrats to the post of ‘Project Director’ on various infrastructure projects and that too, on acting charge basis.
Terming the practice illegal being in stark violation of Section 27 of the PEC Act, 1976 and various judgments of the superior courts, counsels argued that the top court had cautioned in a number of verdicts that non-engineers should not be appointed to posts requiring engineering expertise.
Appearing before the bench the provincial law officer Shehak Baloch sought more time to file a reply in the matter. To which the Chief Justice Mandokhail asked as to why an open and transparent procedure had not been followed before making the appointments under challenge?
Responding to the Chief Justice query about the basic object and purpose behind the appointment of Project Directors, counsels for the PEC submitted that a perusal of Chapter 7 of the Planning Commission Manual makes it clear that the object of the position is to have one skilled, experienced person at the top who will take responsibility for taking the project from start to end, using the least amount of time and resources possible.
The counsels further submitted that the object cannot be fulfilled by the appointment of bureaucrats who are neither skilled in project management nor can they devote full-time attention to projects and who get frequently transferred.
During the last hearing of the matter, Umer Ijaz Gilani had apprised Chief Justice Mandokhail about the job description and role of a Project Director saying as per the official publication of the Planning Commission, job description, a Project Director must be a person who has both qualifications and experience in designing engineering work and drafting tender documents. Gilani had also informed the court that awarding construction contracts and overseeing the implementation of construction contracts is the job that requires a technical and specialized job that cannot be performed by generalist bureaucrats.
It is the stance of the petitioners in the matter that as the elected representative of around 300,000 engineers of the country, the PEC is bound to defend the rights of engineers and also to contribute towards governance reforms needed for swift development.
After hearing contentions of the petitioner’s counsel, Chief Justice Mandokhail clubbed the petition with another identical petition of Engr. Hafeezullah and asked the chief secretary to submit a reply in the matter not later than April 08.
The writer heads a leading news wire service ‘The Law Today Pakistan’ commonly known as TLTP. He has a special focus on news relating to superior courts adjudication, access to right of information, civil, political, social and economic rights under the approach that existing cyber regime realization ensures procedural fairness in administrative law. He can be reached at email@example.com