OUR STAFF REPORTER LAHORE - A Lahore High Court Division Bench, through an interim order on Tuesday, stayed removal of as many as 1,173 employees of the Faisalabad Electric Supply Company. Their appointments were previously declared illegal by a Single Bench in July 2010, considering them as made on political basis. The Fesco employees had filed an intra-court appeal against the verdict passed by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, who had declared the appointments in question as illegal and void, and had directed the authorities concerned to make fresh appointments on merit. The Division Bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed passed the interim stay after hearing the arguments of appellants counsel AK Dogar advocate at the preliminary stage. The division bench also suspended operation of the single bench order while granting the interim stay to the employees and sought reply from Pepco and Federal government to the petitioner by September 28,.which has also been fixed as next date of hearing. Tracing history of the case one learns that the single bench has declared the appointments illegal while deciding as many as 49 petitions on the identical issue relating to the appointment of over a thousand candidates allegedly made at the behest of Federal Water and Power Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in violation of the prescribed criteria and rules. Then petitioners, including Iffat Sardar and Anwar Ali, submitted that they applied for the posts of assistant linemen, meter readers, commercial assistants and naib qasids advertised by Fesco in November 2008. The posts were announced for the candidates having domiciles of Faisalabad, Toba Tek Singh, Khushab, Sargodha and Mianwali districts. The petitioners stated that being permanent residents of the prescribed districts, they filed applications for the posts but the same were rejected by the authorities concerned without disclosing any reason. They said the candidates who were appointed were not residents of the prescribed districts and instead most of them hailed from Chakwal and Gujjar Khan districts the area from where the minister had returned to the National Assembly. The petitioners alleged that the minister accommodated his supporters by offering them jobs in violation of merit and ignoring the deserving candidates. Even such candidates were also appointed who did not pass the written test and interview, they said and prayed to the court to set aside all the appointments. The judge summoned the record of the appointments, and it transpired that the company had not maintained complete record of the new appointees. Setting aside the appointments in his short order, the judge also issued notices on 17 more petitions pertaining to appointments made against other posts. It may be recalled that on May 6, Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan had cancelled 548 appointments at the Gujranwala Power Company.