The chief secretary has reportedly moved a summary to the chief minister office for restoration of the deputy commissioner, The Nation has learnt.
A representation will be given to the CM Shahbaz Sharif on the issue. After his nod, the matter will be referred to cabinet. Since the provincial assembly is not in session, through an ordinance the district administration will be set up.
The district coordination officer (DCO) will become the DC but not the District Magistrate (DM).
It is also learnt that the Punjab government also wanted to create some 146 slots of Additional Assistant Commissioners (AACs).
The AACs will function either under the ACs or the Additional District Collector Generals (ADCGs).
The Provincial Management Service (PMS) officers showed serious concerns over this development. Requesting anonymity the PMS officers said that by this development their promotion prospects will be curtailed. They said that the AAC would be another Extra Assistant Commissioner (EAC) and the provincial officers would be posted as AACs.
Instead of getting posting of the AC, the PMS officers would serve as his subordinates as the EACs of the past. They said that after setting up of the local governments, the role of the AC would further shrink. After establishment of the Land Record Management system the AC's powers had already been curtailed. They said that the provincial officers wanted the AACs to be posted directly under the DCs not the ADCGs or ACs.
Otherwise, they said that the PMS officers would elect those officers who promise blocking of this move.
A PCS officer said that after creation of more AACs seats the vacancies in grade seventeen would increase thus further slowing their promotion to grade 18.
Now, the fresh PMS officers got posting as assistant director Anti Corruption, District Monitoring Officers (DMOs) or ACs in the field formations. After the district health and education authorities become functional, the career of the DMOs would be at stake, the officer said.
A former PCS secretary commenting on the emerging situation said it is feared service model in the Civil Secretariat would be replicated in the districts. The PMS officers in the secretariat serve the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) deputy secretaries usually of the same grade.
"After the new set up is in place the PMS officers will serve the PAS ACs" the retired Secretary added. He said that Section Officers (SOs) had been serving for twelve or more years before becoming the deputy secretaries. The promotion of a PMS officer as DC would become a difficult task, he claimed.
It was also learnt that the would be DCs approached the authorities to strengthen their positions. They complained their offices after establishment of TMAs would be useless. The DC with no say in education and health sectors would be a powerless officer. His role in maintaining law and order situation without magisterial powers would be almost zero. A DCO had demanded of the Chief Secretary in a DCOs conference that the DC should be a DM. This could only be possible after amendment in the CRPC, a federal subject. After separation of the judiciary and executive after devolution, the magisterial powers of 22A and 22B were shifted to the District and Sessions judges.
The Punjab chief Secretary or Secretary Services were not available for comments. however, CS of an other province while talking to this paper said that the DC would serve as Principal accounting officer to the provincialized departments only. "the DC could be strengthened by giving him powers to write Annual Confidential Reports of all the departments while in Punjab they were already enjoying deputy director anti corruption powers" the CS stated.
A DCO said, “Having no say on police matters will weaken the DC role,” adding the district magistracy could accelerate progress on national action plan besides decreasing burden on judiciary. He said that district administration faced severe problems when police failed to cooperate on many matters like action against enchroachers or land grabbers. The state lands were also occupied illegally and district collector could not evacuate the possession because police was not supportive.
A federal secretary held the military regimes in Pakistan favoured reliance on local governments. “They need political exclusion, alliance with the bureaucracy to manage the centralised mechanism and introduction of new politicians through the local government laws. The General Ayub’s BD revived the Civil Service of Pakistan (CSP) and the Deputy Commissioners became the lynchpins of the system,” according to the ex-bureaucrat.
He added in that era, the military governed and the bureaucracy ruled the country that continued till arrival of ZA Bhutto in power corridors who damaged the CSP cadre and boosted political influence in every walk of the government. It was during the General Zia regime, the CSP were able to rehabilitate their positions. Later, they enjoyed powers during the political setups till General Pervez Musharraf coup. It introduced local bodies system, made separation of the executive and judiciary thus reduced the role of the CSP.
Not only magisterial powers of the DC were curtailed and given to the judiciary, its role of police oversight was also abolished and the responsibility of law and order was entrusted to the Nazims. The DC became the DCO with fewer powers. Now, once again the office of the DC is being restored as being heard, but it is not yet clear what will be his authority. He was of the view that the DCO would suffer in terms of powers, utilisation of funds and other matters. However, being head of the provincial departments, he would matter to that extent, the secretary held.
As the provincial government retained the authority to suspend or remove the heads of local governments, the DCO would enjoy an indirect check on them, he added.
The Punjab LG Act gives the provincial government leverage over the local governments and thus the CM and his representative DC will be powerful. Local Government Commissions (LGC), headed by the provincial Minister for Local Government and including members from the provincial assembly, bureaucracy and technocrats will be established which could make inspections, audits and submit reports to the provincial government.
The police are not under the local government as is in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The local councils in the KP have powers to supervise the police and make recommendations to the district government.
Sources say a Police Complaints Authority is being established in Punjab as well.