The Ministry of Food Security and Research is pressurising Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) to reinstate employees who were terminated on grounds of illegal appointment made by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) during its tenure.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has already issued decision to terminate 262 employees, however, instead of terminating them, the food ministry moved to interfere in the affairs of PARC in a bid to reinstate those employees who had been terminated in 2018.

All the illegal appointments were made during 2008-2011. In response to food ministry’s letter to reinstate 11 employees who were terminated in 2018, PARC’s management said that hiring them back would be an illegal act.

Following termination of these 11 employees, Yousuf Raza Gilani had them reinstated in 2018. However, the IHC had said in its decision said that Gilani had no legal grounds to reinstate the employees.

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The food ministry recently formed a committee to influence PARC to rehire the 11 laid-off employees.

In response to a letter sent on March 24, 2021, the PARC management said that recommendations of the fact finding inquiry committee had been examined and it was found that while examining the individual cases of terminated employees (whose reinstatement orders have already been withdrawn), relevant rules, facts of the case, judgments of division bench of IHC, stance of PARC and directives of the sub-committee of PAC have not been kept in view.

It further stated that the report seemed to have been compiled in a hurry and without consultation of material facts/records and with a pre-occupied mind to reach at desired results on the wishes of illegally reinstated employees.

The recommendations of the Ministerial Inquiry Committee are without any legal effect, based on distortion of basic facts, misconception of rules/regulations and contrary to the decision of IHC, it said.

These employees were appointed during 2008-10 by then PARC chairman who made hundreds of appointments (209, without advertisement) in a patently illegal manner without following the prescribed procedures/rules and by ignoring the principle of eligibility against the post.

On May 21, 2011, following multiple inquiries at various levels including at a committee, having three federal secretaries headed by Cabinet Division Secretary Nargis Sethi, services of 269 illegally appointed employees were terminated through speaking orders.

In its 30th, 31st and 32nd meetings held during 2009-11, PARC board of directors endorsed termination of these illegal appointees and directed swift action against the functionaries involved in these hiring.

Later on May 5, 2012, a committee consisting of food ministry officials managed to have the 269 illegal employees reinstated from then prime minister of Pakistan only on humanitarian grounds.

In its 33rd meeting held on December 5, 2012, PARC board of governors resisted the executive orders of prime minister for reinstatement of illegal employees and decided to refer back the case to the PM’s Office for reconsideration.

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Former PARC chairman Naveed Salimi was forced by the food secretary to implement the orders of the prime minister, which were eventually implemented on June 26, 2012.

The reinstatements of 11 employees were withdrawn after fulfilment of all codal formalities and in accordance with law whereas the remaining aggrieved employees filed multiple petitions and ICAs against the proceedings for withdrawal of reinstatement orders.

In the referred facts and circumstances, the decision by the then prime minister to reinstate 269 employees on May 2, 2012 carries no weight and the prime minister does not surface in the functioning of PARC.

In view of serious administrative, financial and legal implications involved in these cases, PARC management is unable to entertain and implement such directives by violating all applicable rules/prescribed procedure and policy, PARC management said.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2021.

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