SC asks counsels to focus arguments on law in review petitions in SERA case

Written by The Frontier Post

ISLAMABAD (APP): The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the counsels, appearing on behalf of parties in review petitions challenging SC decision in Sacked Employees Reinstatement Act (SERA) 2010, to focus their arguments only on law.

A five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Syed MAnsoor Ali Shah, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin and Justice Amin-Ud-Din Khan heard review petitions filed by the government and sacked workers against the judgment, which struck down the Sacked Employees (Reinstatement) Ordinance Act, 2010.

During the course of proceedings, Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan appeared before the bench and stated that a three-member bench had asked the Chief Justice to constitute a five-member bench on November 29.

He said that the federal government filed a review petition on judicial grounds.

He said that the court allowed appeals of the petitioners and ordered them to submit written synopsis. He said that he would argue after the arguments of counsels for the petitioners.

Justice Bandial said that the court had asked senior counsels Waseem Sajjad and Raza Rabbani to argue the case as the availability of AGP was not sure.

Raza Rabbani said that he could not submit the written synopsis and would submit later today.

Advocate Waseem Sajjad counsel for two individuals of Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Company Ltd (SNGPL) employees said that the apex court’s bench on August 17 had declared SERA as null and void and as a result thousands of employees become jobless.

He said that around 16,000 employees got affected due to this judgment.

The court announced the judgment without hearing the AGP and affected employees, he added.

He said that these affected employees were neither party in the case nor they were issued notices by the court. He said that the right of the affected employees regarding provision of justice was affected due to this judgment. There were two sets of affected employees, one executive class and the other lower grade employees, he said and added that the cabinet committee reinstated these employees in 2009. “My client was terminated in 1997 and reinstated on December 15, 2009 by the cabinet committee,” he added.

Justice Mansoor said that they were not civil service employees and asked whether they were working on contract. Waseem responded that affected employees were from different cadres and most of the employees were not civil servants. The then government reinstated these employees after passing an act in the Parliament, he added.

Justice Bandial said that apparently, these employees were not recruited according to the prescribed criteria. The decisions of different courts were also present over the matter.

Waseem said that some employees filed petitions against the reinstatement of employees and challenged their reinstatement due to their seniority.

Justice Mansoor asked what procedure was adopted for provision of jobs.

The counsel replied that employees were recruited after interviews. He said that the government terminated employees because of political rivalry in the past. All details regarding restoration of these sacked employees were narrated in the SERA, he added.

Some individuals challenged the reinstatement of employees in different courts due to seniority issues, he said.

Justice Mansoor said that a set of employees filed petitions after their seniority was affected due to passage of this Act.

Waseem Sajjad said that apparently, no one challenged this act as it surfaced during arguments in a petition.

Justice Mansoor said that rights of other employees were affected due to these employees and they filed petitions as their rights were infringed.

Waseem Sajjad said that Parliament legislated for the sacked employees.

Justice Bandial said that the court in its judgments had stated that there was a violation of Article 25 of the Constitution.

He asked the counsel to satisfy the court on what ground these employees were reinstated. There was a procedure for appointments in the government sector, he added.

Justice Mansoor said that reinstatement of dismissed employees after 12 years was an injustice to the fresh candidates.

Waseem Sajjad, said these people were not young anymore and had school going children, asking the court for relief.

Justice Sajjad asked the counsel to only talk about the law in the court, adding that retired employees went to the office one day and were awarded all the perks.

Justice Bandial termed such appointment and rehabilitation of employees unconstitutional and contrary to laws.

Advocate Shah Khawar pleaded the court to suspend the judgment till final decision in the review petitions.

Justice Bandial rejected the plea. He said the bench will try to hold day to day  hearings from Monday to conclude the case at the earliest and issue a short ruling by next week.

Justice Sajjad Ali Shah said the government itself approached the court for the appointment of the employees.

Later, the hearing of the case was adjourned till Monday.

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