Over failure of provincial government to adhere to the command of legislature in appointing engineers instead of bureaucrats as project directors for infrastructure development, the Balochistan High Court (BHC) on Wednesday sought reply from chief secretary in the matter.
Challenging the act of Planning and Development Department of Balochistan in appointing deputy commissioners as project directors in grave violation of Pakistan Engineering Council Act 1979, Advocates Aimal Khan Kakar and Umer Ijaz Gilani urged the Balochistan High Court to issue directives to the provincial government for appropriately qualified engineers appointment against the slots in the province.
Appearing before a division bench of the BHC comprising Chief Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Hameed Baloch on behalf of the PEC, the counsels submitted 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.
Responding to query of the Chief Justice Mandokhail about the job description and role of a Project Director, counsels for PEC pointed out that 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.
They further contended that awarding construction contracts and overseeing the implementation of construction contracts is the job which requires a technical and specialized job which cannot be performed by generalist bureaucrats.
When Chief Justice Mandokhail inquired as to why the PEC has decided to become a petitioner in the current matter, Umer Ijaz Gilani submitted that the PEC has taken this extreme step because the practice of subordinating engineers to the command of generalist bureaucrats is demoralizing for engineers and adversely affects their careers prospects.
Advocate Gilani claimed 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 preliminary arguments, the Court issued notices to the provincial government while seeking para-wise comments in the matter saying the court will take up the case after winter vacation.
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