IHC declares appointment of all daily-wage staffers at government schools, colleges as illegal

 
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ISLAMABAD Nov 02 (TNS): The Islamabad High Court has declared all daily-wage staffers — who were appointed at government schools and colleges in the capital without following due procedure and observing principles of transparency — as illegal, void and tantamount to misconduct on part of the appointing authority.

However, daily-wage staffers — who were appointed through a transparent recruitment process and have been demanding their regularisation in basic pay scale grade 1 to 15 —shall be scrutinised by their respective departments in light of a recent policy.

Further, each petitioner shall be granted a fair hearing and that each case shall be considered and decided by the relevant competent authority within 90 days.

Teaching staff appointed at various schools and colleges on daily wages, contracts or as contingent staff in grades 16 and above had gone to court seeking regularisation of their services.

The longstanding issue of nearly 2,000 daily wage and contractual teaching and non-teaching staff in the capital has been lingering for years. Despite having gone through several rounds of discussion in various parliamentary committees and the even debated on the floor of the parliament, little had been done to resolve their grievances.

The court, after holding a number of hearings since February this year, had concluded proceedings on August 2. It subsequently withheld its decision on miscellaneous petitions.

While they pinned their hopes on the courts, the decision by Justice Athar Minallah provided little relief to the petitioners.

Justice Minallah noted that teachers who were appointed without any prior advertisements of posts but have served for a considerable time were deserving of care from the federal government.

“The failure of federal government is obvious in taking timely measures,” Justice Minallah observed.

“It would, therefore, be just and proper to direct the federal government to consider and take appropriate decisions in accordance with the law relating to the fate of such petitioners,” he added.

“The federal government may, inter alia, consult the FPSC in this regard, because the petitioners fall in the category of pay scale 16 and above.”

Moreover, the court observed that federal government had a duty to pay teachers employed at public schools or colleges from the approved budget, rather than burdening the students, which was a serious violation of the law.

The verdict noted that teachers were being paid from the Student Fund, which is not part of the approved budget.

“Nothing is available on record to show that the appointing authority in the case of public schools or colleges is empowered to appoint teachers on a daily-wage basis against private funds collected from the students,” Justice Minallah wrote in his verdict.

Further, the order said that several teachers had been appointed through non-transparent processes since there were no posts advertised. Some of these staffers include contract employees who had been appointed on the development side of various projects.

Justice Minallah directed that cases of eligible employees in grades 1 through 15 shall be placed before the Departmental Selection Committee, while employees of grade 16 and above will be told to directly apply to the commission in accordance with clause (ii) of the New Policy issued in May 2017.

While the order provides a pathway for legally appointed teachers to be regularized, many of the daily-wage staffers, however, termed the order as discriminatory.

They pointed out that hundreds of government employees had been regularised under the regularisation policy without involving the Federal Public Service Commission. For them, they said, the court had told the government to consult the commission.