The Supreme Court on Thursday declared null and void the promotion of 80 bureaucrats from grade 20 to 21.

The promotions were made during former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf's tenure.

Announcing the verdict in a civil servants promotion case‚ a three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry directed that promotion should be made purely on merit.

The verdict said that the government has confessed that 23 officers were illegally promoted.

It said that a new board should be established for the promotion of the officers, urging the government to ensure the appointment of honest and apolitical officers on higher posts.

The bench had reserved its verdict on July 12 on the petition filed by former bureaucrat and noted columnist Oriya Maqbool Jan.

Reports say that Dr. Fazlullah Pechuho, husband of Asif Ali Zardari's sister, is also among the beneficiaries. He is currently serving as Chief Secretary Sindh and said to be given priority for the promotion despite being on 132nd position in the seniority list.