While taking up public interest petition of Provincial Management Service (PMS) Officers Association, seeking enforcement of administrative federalism in the country, Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Thursday issued directives to Secretary Establishment and Secretary Law to conduct a meeting with the petitioners to streamline matter and overcome procedural hurdles.
Filing the petition on behalf of All Pakistan Provincial Services Association, which is presently headed by Farhatullah Khan Marwat, Additional Secretary, Government of KPK before the Committee, Advocate High Court Umar Ijaz Gilani urged the forum to take measure over violation of scheme of administrative federalism in the Constitution. On Thursday, Chairman of the Committee Senator Talha Mehmood presided over the hearing in presence of the members including Senator Seemi Ezdi of Pakistan Threek-e-Insaf and Senator Mushtaq Ahmad of Jammat-e- Islami.
During the proceeding, Umar Ijaz Gilani argued that the present state of affairs where federal officers of DMG group are being posted on purely provincial posts ranging from Chief Secretary to Assistant Commissioner is a violation of the scheme of administrative federalism laid out in the Constitution. “It violates, inter alia, Articles 1(1), 137 and 240(b).
Counsel for public interest petitioner also argued that the colonial-era Government of India Act, 1915 provides some basis for this reservation system, ie keeping some key local and provincial posts for federal officers”, Gilani submitted. He further said that after 1947, when Pakistan became a true federation with autonomous provinces, there remains no constitutional basis for this system. He argued the system doesn’t get with the Constitutions of 1956, 1962 and 1973, however, this aspect of federalism has remained neglected. At this point, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, MNA Ali Muhammad Khan interjected and raised a preliminary objection saying under Rule 166 of the Senate Rules, the Senate Rules bar taking up sub judice matters.
Ali Muhammad Khan pointed out that the vires of the 1954 Rules remains sub judice before the Supreme Court of Pakistan in a 184(3) case which remains pending. Responding to this, counsel for PMS contended that while this may be the case with the 1954 Rules, this is not the case with SR0 1074 of 2014 and the recent 2020 amendments. Also, the Senate is the main guardian of federalism and should not adopt an interpretation of Rule 166 which renders it ineffective.
All Pakistan PMS Officers Coordinator Farhatullah Marwat stated that if the matter is sub judice since 2010, then it so for both sides. However, the government has been making amendments. Chairman of the Standing Committee observed that the onus of proving whether any petition or any part of it is barred because of being a sub judice matter is on government officials.
They should prove it with documents. Otherwise, the Parliament will allow its hands to be tied. After a brief hearing, the Committee directed Secretary Establishment and Secretary Law to conduct a meeting with the petitioners to streamline matter and overcome procedural hurdles. Later, the Committee adjourned the hearing of the petition for February 11.
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