SC sets aside PHC judgment in Workers Welfare Board case

ISLAMABAD    –  The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday announced the verdict on the appeal of KP government against the Peshawar High Court (PHC) verdict wherein it had directed Workers Welfare Board (WWB) to regularise the services of all the respondents.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed announced the judgment and set aside the aforementioned PHC judgment dated 29.03.2018.

In its verdict, the bench noted that (WWB) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is neither performing nor is it capable of performing its functions under the law; rules and regulations and this led to indiscriminate loss and wastage of funds, a deluge of litigation.

The judgment authored by Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that funds provided to the Board are in the nature of a Trust and it is the responsibility first of the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and thereafter of the Board to ensure that such funds are utilised in a most responsible, conscientious and honest manner with the object of advancing the welfare of the workers, contributions on whose account, constitute the substratum of the funds.

The bench further said that funds of the Board and the Board itself have become a pie in which all competing interests whether personal or political, vie and compete to snatch a share. Even Unions have been formed in order to create pressure groups to advance vested interests. This situation required interference which the Government does not seem to have done despite the dire state of affairs. 

It therefore directed that the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is directed to constitute a committee headed by its Chief Secretary and consisting of highly respected and independent professionals possessing the higher degree of integrity from the fields of Education, Administration, Finance, Human Resource and Employment Laws, etc. Such committee shall in the first instance examine the laws, rules and regulations governing the setting up, operation and functioning of the schools systems set up by the Board.

The verdict said that the Board shall provide the Committee all data, information financial documents, employment documentations etc relating to terms and conditions of employment of the entire staff working in these Schools and such other information as the Committee may require. The Committee may with the approval of Chief Secretary/Chairman of the Committee co-opt any other member from any Government or private entity who may in the majority opinion of the Committee facilitate and add value to its deliberation.

It added that the Committee shall also have the power to constitute sub-committees consisting of two or more members who will examine and streamline the entire process of employing persons in the projects of the Board especially its school projects. It will also ‘examine and suggest changes in the system of appointments which would be made by Selection Boards constituted on the basis of recommendations to be made by this Committee.

According to the verdict, it shall also make recommendations for promulgating afresh or amending rules dealing with all existing staff ‘in the schools/institutions and all matters related to their appointments. The Committee shall also get conducted an independent audit of the Board with special reference to school projects for the past seven years in  order to fix responsibility for cronyism, favouritism, unnecessary litigation and leakage and wastage of funds with relation to illegal appointments made at various stages.

It continued that the Committee shall also prepare a comprehensive report regarding other aspects of the workings of the Board and its school projects within a period of three months and submit such report not only to the Government •of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but also to this -Court for our perusal in Chambers. It has also review the powers, working and procedures of the Board, and make recommendations to streamline its working and making all major decisions including sanction of projects and allocation of funds subject to the approval to the Board.

It further said that recommendations shall also include measures to create a workable balance between the powers of the Board, the Chairman and Secretary and suggest inbuilt counterchecks on exercise of power at every stage. 

The bench maintained that the committee shall also coordinate with the National Accountability Bureau and Anti-Corruption Establishment and such other entities as may be charged with the responsibility to oversee and undertake accountability initiatives where public funds are utilized. It shall also point out the individuals ‘Who have’ been found by it to be involved in financial mismanagement, corruption, favoritism and misuse/ abuse of authority for initiation of proceedings against them in accordance with the law.

It directed that the Committee shall also look into the working of the Board, its Management Committee, Chairmen as well as Secretaries of the Board for the past seven years and recommend appropriate action where any violation of the rules, regulations and laws, etc have been found.

The apex court said that It shall also examine the decisions taken by the Board and notifications issued from time to time to determine the objective behind the same, ensure that the same have been issued in the best interest of the Board and are in accordance with laws and rules failing which appropriate actions against those responsible for the same shall be recommended.

It directed that the Committee shall make such other and further recommendations as it may consider appropriate for better functioning of the Board so that it runs as an efficient, well structured, well planned and responsible entity.

“We have been informed that an exercise to scrutinize and screen teachers hired from February) 2011 to June, 2016 and to propose a rationalization programme to streamline the strength of teaching and non-teaching staff was undertaken by a rationalization Committee by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Workers Welfare Board in the year 2016. The said Committee after an elaborate and painstaking exercise submitted a comprehensive report on June 20, 2016 along with its recommendations, on our query about the fate and outcome of the report and implementation of its recommendations, we have been informed that the report was put in cold storage and never saw the light of the day. The reasons for such in action are not hard to fathom,” said the verdict.

It added, “We direct that the Committee constituted herein will consider the said report, replicate the exercise for the period between 2Q16 to 2020 and then ensure implementation of recommendations in letter and spirit.

It maintained that let the aforesaid exercise be undertaken within a period of three months from the date of receipt of a certified copy of this order. The report of the Committee shall be placed before us in chambers for further orders if necessary.

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