December 17th, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
The Supreme Court on Friday, December 17, restored over 16,000 sacked public sector employees by taking a suo motu notice but dismissed review petitions against the apex court judgment under which the employees were initially dismissed from their jobs.
A five-member bench, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, upheld the apex court 17th August decision to strike down the Sacked Employees (Re-instatement) Act, 2010 by a majority verdict of four to one dissenting. The lone dissenting judge, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, allowed the review petition by partially reinstating the Sacked Employees (Re-instatement) Act, 2010.
In their majority verdict, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed, and Justice Aminuddin Khan stated that ‘the Sacked Employees (Re-instatement) Act, 2010 (“Act”) is held to be violative of, inter alia, Articles 25, 18, 9 and 4 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 (“Constitution”) and therefore void under the provisions of Article 8 of the Constitution.
However, the Supreme Court exercised its suo motu powers under Article 184(3) and Article 187 and ordered the restoration of all the sacked employees after taking into ‘consideration the services rendered by the re-instated employees’.
In its short order, the Supreme Court directed that sacked employees on lower grade posts not requiring any tests for appointment would be restored from the date of the 17th August judgment.
“Employees who were holding posts that on the date of their initial termination of service (from 01.11.1996 to 12.10.1999) did not require any aptitude or scholastic or skill test, for appointment thereon, shall be restored from the date of the judgment under review to the posts they were holding on the same terms and conditions of service applicable on the date of their termination pursuant to the judgment under review,” reads the short order.
In case of the sacked employees, who were on upper-grade posts that required any test for an appointment, the Supreme Court directed that they would be restored on their jobs from the period of initial termination between Ist November 1996 to 12th October 1999.
“Such other employees who were holding posts that on the date of their initial termination of service (from 01.11.1996 to 12.10.1999) required the passing of any aptitude or scholastic or skill test, for appointment thereon shall from the date of the judgment under review be restored to their said posts on the same terms and conditions of service applicable on the date of their initial termination,” reads the apex court order.
The Supreme Court ordered that the promotions of the reinstated employees would be in accordance with the law and rules but in the absence of the law, the rules made by the concerned public sector organisations would apply to their promotions.
However, the Supreme Court directed that the order would not apply to employees who have been fired for absenteeism, corruption, misconduct and embezzlement, and the courts had not annulled those dismissals.
“The relief granted in sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii) above shall not be granted to employees whose initial termination of service (from 01.11.1996 to 12.10.1999) was on grounds of absence from duty, misconduct, corruption, misappropriation of money/stock or unfitness on medical grounds if such termination was not set aside finally by a Court of law,” reads the short order.
In a previous hearing, the Attorney General had informed the court that 5974 employees of 38 federal public sector organisations had been dismissed from service following the 17th August judgment.
Speaking to Voicepk.net, Shahbaz Khosa, counsel for sacked employees of Allied Bank Limited and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited, said the judgment would lead to the restoration of over 16,000 public sector employees.
He said the 17th August judgment had also led to the sacking of those employees who did not take any part in litigation since the Sacked Employees (Re-instatement) Ordinance in 2009. The counsel pleaded that such employees were wrongly dismissed with a stroke of the pen.
Khosa also pointed that there was some confusion over the reinstatement of employees on posts that required tests for an appointment. According to him, these reinstated employees would have to approach their organisations on terms and conditions of their service. In his opinion, these employees could approach courts in case their organisations refuse them promotions and perks despite meeting the required criteria.
In his minority ruling, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah ruled that ‘under Article 8 of the Constitution, any law enacted by the legislature is void only to the extent it takes away or abridges fundamental rights of the people’.