ISLAMABAD            -         The Supreme Court of Pakistan Tuesday said that the major penalty imposed upon a civil servant of reduction to a lower post or pay scale or to a lower stage in a pay scale without specifying time does not serve the object of the penalty.

The apex court said this in a verdict authored by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah.

The judgment says, “It is not the scheme of the penalty under The Removal from Service (Special Powers) Ordinance, 2000 that a civil servant relegated to lower position start all over again in the new position and rise up the ranks as if to re-live his service life again.”

It further said that this is not the purpose or the object of the major penalty. Such like penalties, by nature are time-bound, they are to punish an officer for the lapse committed and once the time is served, the officer under penalty can revert to his original position or status in service.

“A major penalty of reduction to lower position without specifying time not only defeats the object of the penalty but is also disproportionate with the lapse committed by the officer,” said the judgment.

Mirza Aamer Hassan, Inspector in Income Tax Department, had approached the apex court against the verdict of Service Tribunal. He was proceeded against departmentally under Ordinance on the allegations that there were persistent public complaints regarding harassment and corruption; inefficiency in the performance of his official duties in spite of repeated warnings; failure to achieve budgetary targets; failure to furnish Annual Declarations of Assets and Liabilities; was appointed on extraneous political grounds in violation of the relevant rules.

The competent authority vide order dated 26.05.2001 imposed major penalty of reduction to the lowest of the time-scale. The appellant filed a departmental appeal, which remained pending.

He, therefore, filed an appeal before the Service Tribunal in terms of Section 4 of the Service Tribunal Act, 1973, which was dismissed vide impugned judgment dated 27.05.2010.

Mirza Aamer challenged the Tribunal order in the Supreme Court to consider whether the major penalty of reversion to the lowest of the time-scale can be without any specified time.

The judgment noted that Section 3 (1), (e) (iii) though talks about reduction to a lower post or pay scale or to a lower stage in a pay scale, but does not specify any time.

The court noted that under the Fundamental Rule 29, “If a Government servant is, on account of misconduct or inefficiency, reduced to a lower grade or post, or to a lower stage in his time-scale, the authority ordering such reduction shall state the period for which it shall be effective and whether, on restoration, it shall operate to postpone future increments and if so, to what extent.”

The judgment said that it has been a consistent practice of this Court over the years to specify the time in such like penalties by placing reliance on Fundamental Rule 29.

The court in view of Mirza Aamer’s appeal pending since 2001, instead of remanding the matter to the competent authority, specify a period of three years for the major penalty of reduction to the lowest time scale imposed upon the appellant. The department is asked to actualize the same and fix the service record of the appellant accordingly.