LAHORE -  The backlog of cases at Punjab Services Tribunal reaches 8,000 as two of the tribunal judges are yet to be posted by the provincial government.

Official sources told The Nation that the seats in the tribunal were vacant for months. One was vacant after transfer of one member Maqsood Ahmad Lak, a senior bureaucrat, on August 22. One member District and Sessions judge Hafizullah Khan retired on October 2.

Sources told that about 450 to 500 new petitions are being filed in the tribunal in each month while disposal of cases is slow due to lack of judges in the court.

“The government should appoint the members in the tribunal so that the disposal of cases in the PST could be paced up,” said an officer.

When contacted a senior officer said that the government has recommended names of two members for the PST. District and Sessions judge Rao Abdul Jabbar and Mehmoodul Hasan may be appointed as the PST members after the approval of the CM Punjab, said that officer.

A PST official requesting anonymity told that senior bureaucrats and judges don’t like to be posted in the tribunal. He said that senior officers of the grade 21 are posted as members in the PST.

All the officers perform judicial duties but civil servants in the past did not get the benefits the judicial officers got. The judicial officers received an amount of over Rs 100,000 per month as judicial allowance in addition to their salary, facilities and other utilities. The civil servants only draw their BPS salaries, the officer added.

In October last year the PST administration forwarded requests to the Punjab government to approve such allowances for the civil officers. The Punjab government approved the special allowance for the bureaucrat members of the tribunal.

Talking about the vacant seats at the tribunal, an S&GAD officer said: “In the past civil servants didn’t like to serve as members PST as there was severe discrimination as for as allowances were concerned.”

He said that the assignment for both judicial as well as civil officers, both BP 21, was same but the later were deprived of their right of special allowances. No district management group officer liked to serve as the member PST, he held.

“Though, the status of the PST was equal to the provincial high court but contrary to the judiciary its employees were denied the special allowances the judiciary employees were drawing,” the officer said. He lauded the Punjab government’s decision to pay allowances to the civil members as well. The civil officers posted as PST members would work more diligently while disposing of cases relating to the service matters, he added.

The government should also approve judicial allowances for the lower staff as it was paying to the lower staff of judiciary, he pleaded.

A Provincial Secretariat Services (PSS) officer requesting anonymity said that a case of his cadre was pending in the service tribunal for months.

“Even after the apex court had remanded their ratio issue to the PST, the case is still pending,” he held. The government should appoint the judges against the vacant slots so that the serving employees in different government sectors could get relief, he implored.