While acceding to Pakistan Engineering Council’s (PEC) much awaited demand on Monday, the provincial law officer apprised the Balochistan High Court (BHC) that the government has approved policy under which no bureaucrat will be appointed project director but a qualified engineer to oversee the development projects in the province.
In December, 2020, Advocates of High Court Umer Ijaz Gilani and Aimal Khan Kakar have invoked the Balochistan High Court (BHC) jurisdiction on behalf of Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) challenging appointment of deputy commissioners as project directors in the Government of Balochistan. Counsel termed this practice a grave violation of Pakistan Engineering Council Act 1976 saying the subjugation of experts to the control of generalists is a continuation of the colonial-era governance practices. The then Chief Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail took stern notice of the issues raised in the petition and called for the government’s reply.
“I feel honoured that our sustained legal battle has finally forced the Government of Balochistan to acknowledge the rights of engineers.”, says Vice Chairman (Balochistan) PEC, Engr. Qazi Rashid Ahmed Baloch,
Appearing before a bench of the incumbent Chief Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan and Justice Abdul Hameed Baloch of the BHC on Monday in the matter, Advocate General Balochistan Arbab Tahir assured the Court that the Provincial Cabinet of Balochistan has approved an official policy regarding appointment of project directors.
The policy, which has been issued in response to the plea of the PEC, puts an end to the practice of appointing bureaucrats as project directors. Only qualified persons, such as engineers, will be appointed as PDs of development projects.
It is pertinent to mention that earlier, the case got adjourned a couple of times. However, on 19th April, 2021, the provincial government took everyone by surprise. Additional Advocate General Shai Haq Baloch informed the court that Chief Minister Jam Kamal has agreed, in principle, with the PEC’s stance. He placed on court record a draft policy titled “Policy for Appointment of Project Directors (PD)”. Clause 7 of the Policy states that only experts would be appointed as Project Directors. . The Court sought PEC’s comments on the Policy.
On 25th May, 2021, The PEC submitted its written feedback to the Court. Amongst other things, the PEC called for ensuring compliance with S. 27 of the PEC Act which states that engineering work can only be performed by qualified professional engineers. The PEC also called for giving subject-matter experts a greater role in the Selection Committee for recruitment of PDs. The Court appreciated PEC’s comments and directed the Government to consider the same and to finalize the policy at the earliest. On the next date, i.e. 16th May, 2021, the Advocate General informed the court that PEC’s feedback had been considered and a revised draft of the Policy would be placed before the Provincial Cabinet soon.
During the course of proceedings on Monday, the Advocate General stated at the bar that the revised Policy on Appointment of PDs has been approved by Balochistan Cabinet. The practice of appointing non-technical persons as PDs is now a part of history. Counsel for PEC. The AG also assured that a copy of this Policy will be provided to PEC before the next date of hearing, ie. 15th September.
Talking to TLTP, Vice Chairman (Balochistan) PEC, Engr. Qazi Rashid Ahmed Baloch said: “I feel honoured that our sustained legal battle has finally forced the Government of Balochistan to acknowledge the rights of engineers. We have achieved a historic victory today. The Policy for Appointment of PDs will not only secure the rights of Balochistan’s engineers, it will serve as a model for other provinces too. Pakistan’s engineers have always fought courageously for their legal rights and for creating good governance; our struggle will never stop.”
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