ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan Monday set aside the Peshawar High Court (PHC) verdict on regularizing the services of employees of Peshawar Market Committee (PMC).

The verdict authored by Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel said that the action of respondents to terminate the appellants and make fresh appointments to be oppressive and against their fundamental rights.

The court said, “We, in the circumstances, don’t think that the findings of the High Court are in accordance with law on the subject, hence are not maintainable.” The PMC employees had challenged the PHC judgment dated 8th May, 2012. The High Court had dismissed their plea.

The apex court noted that Section 16 of the repeal Act of 1939 and the Act 2007 deal with the appointment of employees of the Market Committees. Whereas Section 17 of the both laws provide the status of the employees of Market Committees as that of public servants within the meaning of Section 21 of the Pakistan Penal Code 1860 (PPC).

The apex court bench said that bye-laws of 2006 under the Act of 1939 provide three categories of employees i.e. (1) Regular (2) Contract (3) Contingent, whereas bye-laws of 2013 under the Act 2007 provide two categories of employees i.e. (1) Regular (2) Daily Wages.

Court observes that employees were appointed by competent authority under relevant laws

The judgment observed that the employees before the apex court were appointed from 1994 to 2010. The employees so appointed continued with their services. The Act of 1939 was once repealed have become redundant due to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government Ordinance, 2001. However, this law was revived by repealing the Ordinance, 2002 vide Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Act VII of 2004.

It added that the government kept on improving the market committees’ system. In the same effort, the government made by-law of 2006 under the Act 1939. Thereafter, the government promulgated yet another Act “Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Agricultural and Livestock Produce Markets Act, 2007”. The government also made and published/notified rules under Section 35 of the Act, 2007 with the name ‘The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Agricultural Produce Markets General Rules, 2011’ and By-laws under Section 3. Rule 71 of 2011 Rules deals with the appointments, terms and conditions of service of employees.

The court observed that the employees were appointed by the competent authority under both the laws with an admitted fact that there was no proper service structure at the time of such appointments.

The judgment said that the record clearly indicates that their appointments were made on regular basis and they have served PMC for more than 17 years and they as per Section 17 of the Act, 2007 are public servants and entitled to all benefits of pay and allowances as admissible to other government employees.

The apex court set aside the Peshawar High Court judgment dated 08.05.2012 and said it is has taken very harsh and technical aspect of the matter which even goes against the provisions of the Act of 2007, Rules of 2011 and the By-Laws of 2013.

It said that the appointing authority under Section 16 of the Act of 2007 is the Market Committee. Terms and conditions of the employees as reflected in the different appointment orders (both under the existing and the repealed laws) would show that the same were of permanent and regular nature.

It added, “We have noted that employees of the PMC who have spent/rendered services in the Committee since 1994-95 and that too without any blemish and in spite of the Act 2007, its Rules 2011 and the Bye-laws of 2013, have been made rolling stones struggling for their fundamental rights.”

It further said, “We consider the action of respondents to terminate appellants and to make fresh appointments to be oppressive and against their fundamental rights especially when Rule 71(V) also gives protection to the persons already employed.”