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  #241  
Old Tuesday, September 24, 2013
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Default Milking the exchequer: AGP catches 18 senior bureaucrats illegally availing Rs7.6mn

Milking the exchequer: AGP catches 18 senior bureaucrats illegally availing Rs7.6mn

By Shahbaz Rana: September 24, 2013

In a shocking revelation, the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) has informed the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that 18 top bureaucrats of the country, including top management of the finance ministry, illegally availed budget honorariums amounting to Rs7.6 million in 2011-12.
These grade 21 and 22 officers, according to the latest audit report on the affairs of the finance ministry, availed honorariums of up to seven basic salaries in the financial year 2011-12.
In 1996, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet had decided that a budget honorarium will be given to officers of Federal Board of Revenue, Planning and Development Division and Ministry of Finance. The ECC had allowed honorarium only up to the level of grade 20 officers.
According to the AGP office, in 2011-12 the ministry of finance had paid Rs120.1 million in honorarium, of which Rs7.6 million was paid to the officers of basic pay scale 21 and above, against the directives of the ECC.
Further irregularities unearthed by the AGP office showed that all honorariums were paid without deduction of income tax. Apart from this, the two officers who availed this honorarium were not on the strength of the finance ministry either.
Given these revelations of serious financial misdemeanour, the AGP has recommended immediate recovery of tax payers’ money from senior bureaucrats and recommended that responsibility should also be fixed against those who sanctioned the honorariums.
The disclosure that the top economic managers of the country, who are entrusted to ensure prudent financial management, are themselves involved in financial impropriety has raised many questions, including whether these officers should be allowed to serve in these important posts.
Prominent bureaucrats who availed budget honorariums include incumbent secretary finance Dr Waqar Masood, additional secretary finance (now OSD) Abdul Khaliq, additional secretary finance (now serving member Federal Board of Revenue) Aftab Anwar Baloch, senior joint secretary finance now secretary ministry of parliamentary affairs) Manzoor Ali Khan, economic advisor Ministry of Finance, Ejaz Wasti, additional secretary finance (now serving secretary ministry of national food security and research) Seerat Asghar, additional secretary finance (now additional secretary ministry of petroleum) Arshad Mirza, and additional secretary finance (now Managing Director Public Procurement Regulatory Authority) Nazrat Bashir.
The two officers who were not serving on the strength of the ministry but availed honorariums nonetheless include Farah Ayub Tarin, Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue and Raja Hassan Abbas, additional secretary of Establishment Division.
In its written response to the AGP office, the finance ministry has taken the position that the ECC had approved honorarium of more than one basic pay to all officers of Finance Division, Planning and Development Division and Revenue Division.
It has further maintained that the honorarium paid to the officers of grade 21 and above had the approval of the finance minister in his capacity as chairman ECC.
The AGP has rejected the ministry’s reply and maintained that it was in violation of the ECC decision.

The Express Tribune
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  #242  
Old Tuesday, October 15, 2013
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Default Reforming the Civil Service exam

Reforming the Civil Service exam

Bilal Memon




The Central Superior Services (CSS) is an elite branch associated with the government of Pakistan. It is considered one of the most highly-respected services one can hope to join. Naturally, an aspiring candidate requires a high level of discipline and hard work to even come close to clearing the process that selects individuals for the CSS. With goals firmly in place and exam preparations in full throttle, the next step for the candidate is to submit a form — which in itself is a painstakingly lengthy process and presents unique challenges of its own — at one of the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) offices. Discounting the length of the form and the extra paperwork required to accompany it, the candidate, depending on his financial armour, can now gain assistance from one of the academies that have cropped up recently.
While the time needed to be ‘well-prepared’ for CSS exams is subjective — depending on the candidate’s educational background and ability to ‘memorise’ concepts — it is generally accepted that four to six months are enough to get ready for the tests. The plural form of the word test is being used since the CSS assesses a candidate on a variety of subjects — from the size of the planets to current affairs and the rich history of the subcontinent. Though the examinations usually finish within two weeks, they are followed by an excruciating wait, often lasting at least six months, to find out if the next step of the recruitment process — the interview phase — is in his fate. After that happens, which also takes its sweet cupcake time, the candidate can still fail after the interview phase.
If a candidate manages to clear the interview, another anxious wait will be in store for him, as then he will have to wait to know which service he is going to get allotted. Here comes the most tricky part — after spending almost a year and a half that includes preparation time and the anxious wait — the candidate can still not get his desired service group since the result is relative to the performance of other students that year. Merely sitting for the CSS exams, therefore, requires a huge sacrifice.
One can argue that there is more than one attempt allowed — a candidate has three shots at taking the CSS exams — and a candidate, who is dedicated to joining the civil service will try again if he falls in the first hurdle. But it also means that roughly another year-and-a-half will be spent if the candidate chooses to sit for the exams again. The painstaking length of the process forces candidates to think of a backup. One cannot expect a candidate to sit through the wait and not manage his risks. One can safely conclude that the risk of trying to become a civil servant borders on outweighing the charms of being one. It is highly surprising that the government has not tried to speed up the process. It has a system in place and has stuck to it for ages and there is no intention, on its part, to deliver results earlier.
If one was to say that the training period begins in a specific time of the year since a batch has to graduate before the next one is admitted, why not just finalise the results sooner? This way, aspiring candidates will have a clearer roadmap. The inefficiency in delivering results creates doubts about the competence of the FPSC. There is absolutely no reason for the announcement of results to take as long a time as it does. If the government wants efficient civil servants, it needs to act as an appropriate role model and deliver results efficiently as well.


Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2013.
http://tribune.com.pk/story/618064/r...-service-exam/
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  #243  
Old Saturday, October 19, 2013
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Default Civil Service in Decline

Civil Service in Decline

JUST a few decades ago, joining the Pakistan civil service was the dream of every top student graduating from an elite university.
Civil servants stood out for not just their overall outlook, but were also well-read and intellectual.
Today, however, few people with high academic achievements and potential are interested in pursuing this career.
While the overall decline in the quality of education is one of the reasons, the major reason has to do with the structure of civil service recruitment: the Central Superior Services (CSS) examination that is the entry point into the Civil Service of Pakistan, and its assessment techniques.
The foremost problem is the very structure of the exam. Candidates are required to appear for six compulsory subjects, each of 100 marks, and can choose from a list of optional subjects that range from carrying 100 to 200 marks to fulfil the remaining requirement of 600 marks. If you pass the exam you move on to the next step, which is the interview.
The problem is that the compulsory subjects — Essay, English, Everyday Science, Current Affairs, Pakistan Affairs and Islamiat — do not judge the candidates’ intellectual ability. They require rote learning from the prescribed state perspective.
The English section tests antonyms, synonyms and how fast one can read English passages in a given time to answer questions. Students are not trained for this in Pakistan’s educational curriculum. The Essay subject tests knowledge of Victorian-era English with a major focus on flowery language, and the usage of quotations and idioms. This again requires rote learning. If you fail this component, you fail the entire examination — which happens to more than half the candidates who appear every year.
Even bigger problems exist with Pakistan Affairs, Islamiat and Current Affairs, which together account for 50 per cent weightage of the compulsory subjects.
The questions asked are such that there is no single answer. Here are some examples: “Describe the dignity and superiority of Islam with proof as compared to other religions” (2000); “Write down a comprehensive essay on the judicio-political system of Islam” (2002); “What is the concept of ‘Khalafat’ in Islam?” (2001).
Islam in Pakistan is extremely diverse in ideology. What line are students to follow to get high marks?
Pakistan Affairs asks questions such as “Analyse the main causes of the debacle of East Pakistan. What are its consequences on the history of Pakistan?” (2000), and “As a result of British-Hindu conspiracy on the eve of Independence the state of Pakistan which ultimately emerged in August 1947 was not so strong as visualised by the Quaid-i-Azam…. Elucidate” (2003). What is a student to do if he believes with evidence that there was no British-Hindu conspiracy?
The questions are shockingly discriminatory and do not allow true intellect to pass the exams. Candidates are forced to memorise the state-sponsored narrative and are barred from thinking out of the box. The analysis required must be in line with the dominant narrative and ideology.
With the science subjects, it’s nearly impossible to score high in even subjects such as maths and economics because the examiners only care about the ‘right’ answer. The system followed throughout the world is that marks are allotted for the steps taken in working towards an answer, not just for the right answer.
As a result, rarely does anyone opt for science subjects; most choose high-scoring subjects such as journalism and political science. The subjects are not equally weighed in difficulty and in terms of assessment.
These discriminatory compulsory subjects could be replaced with simple verbal and analytical tests that gauge the students’ analytical abilities. There should be less stress on the English language since perfection in this regard is not necessarily a good indicator of intellect.
The grading of the CSS examinations is not centralised. Answer scripts are left to the mercy of individual examiners who are likely to grade according to personal biases and training.
Some graders might be more generous, others stingy with marks. There is no uniformity or standard grading key, leaving students hoping mainly for good luck. There is no way for a critical and analytical thinker to pass these exams.
A serious revision is needed in the pattern and structure of the CSS exam and its assessment. Instead of gauging students through their ability to memorise books and write lengthy essays, the exam should judge the analytical ability of the student.
A good example is the United Kingdom’s Graduate Fast Stream, the first step of civil service recruitment, which is a test of verbal reasoning and mental arithmetic, and continues with innovative techniques such as the ‘situation judgment test’ which examines candidates’ ability to handle different tasks, argue a case, deal with people and implement projects.
While the test is highly rigorous, the focus is on candidates’ core qualities of analysis, communication, execution and the ability to deliver.
The bureaucracy underpins the success of a nation, and Pakistan desperately needs to restructure and refine its bureaucracy by attracting leading intellectuals.
A good starting point would be a CSS examination that is focused on assessing core human abilities rather than in-depth knowledge to distinguish between intellectuals and rote learners, and brings the best minds into the civil service. Strengthening the bureaucracy is key to checking the corruption of politicians, and reducing the ability of the Pakistan Army to interfere in domestic policymaking.
A weak democracy has historically worked in the favour of both the army and politicians, and hence we don’t, perhaps, see the will to reform the civil service recruitment structure or assess whether the CSS exam is actually bringing in the right people to do the job.




The writer is a visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington, D.C.


http://beta.dawn.com/news/744770/civ...ice-in-decline


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  #244  
Old Tuesday, October 29, 2013
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Post Officials of IRS and PCS as 'FBR chiefs'

The Federal Board of Revenue has decided to post officials of Inland Revenue Service and Pakistan Customs Service as 'FBR chiefs' of the respective management's in the Administration Wing, excluding other occupational groups and services.

Sources told Business Recorder here on Saturday that the issue of posting of IRS and PCS officers as chiefs of the respective management's in the Administration Wing was discussed during the last meeting of the Board-in-Council. The FBR has removed conflict between IRS and PCS for posting of the IRS and PCS officers as 'FBR chiefs' of the respective management's in Administration Wing.

As a result of the decision of the Board-in-Council, the officials of other occupational groups and services cannot be appointed as FBR Chief Management (Grade-20). Two positions of Chief Management Customs (Grade-20) and Chief Management Inland Revenue Service (Grade-20) would be appointed from respective PCS and IRS Group respectively. In line with the decision of the Board-in-Council, only Grade-20 officials of the PCS and IRS would be posted at the FBR House as FBR chief management.

The issue was put forth before the Board-in-Council seeking approval that IRS and PCS officers shall always be posted at respective chiefs of the management in the Administration Wing for the purpose of smooth functioning thereof and safeguard interests of the respective groups. The issue was discussed in detail whether such matter shall be taken up as a policy decision, or as a matter of practice. The Chairman, FBR sought voting of the Members of the Board-in-Council in this regard. By majority of voting by Members of Board-in-Council, it was decided that IRS and PCS officers shall always be posted as respective chiefs of the management, as a matter of practice, sources added.

October 27, 2013 RECORDER REPORT
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  #245  
Old Wednesday, November 13, 2013
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Default Bureaucracy: stopping political interference

Bureaucracy: stopping political interference

THE Supreme Court of India on Oct 31 directed the government of India and the states to pass an order within three months on giving the fixed tenure to civil servants. It has also issued a directive for constitutig a civil services board at national and state levels for the management of transfers, postings, rewards, inquiries and processes of promotion, punishment and disciplinary matters of bureaucracy.

It also said that the fixed tenure of bureaucrats would help to promote professionalism, efficiency and good governance.

The parliament has also been directed by the court to enact a law to regulate transfers and postings of officers, as well as make laws to discipline the officers and immunise them from political influence.

The decision was taken to end political interference in the bureaucracy and to end regular transfers of civil servants by the political executive.

The bureaucracy in Pakistan is also ineffective due to huge interference by political people. The courts in Pakistan are also requested to take a similar decision. Such reforms would help in eliminating corruption and bad governance from the civil services of Pakistan.

ALI AMAD ABRO

Karachi

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  #246  
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Default CSS exams: competitiveness

CSS exams: competitiveness


THIS is apropos of the letter ‘CSS exams: plea to CJP (Oct 29). The writer is demanding BS-17 positions in federal government for the 550 unallocated candidates of CSS examinations in 2012.

I disagree with the writer. There are hundreds of candidates who have passed the CSS examinations in previous years but were not allocated any group.

If the plea is accepted by the chief justice, then the first ones to get the job should be those hundreds of aspirants.

The CSS is the only examination in the country where meritocracy and transparency has been upheld for decades. Every candidate gets three chances to prove his or her standing in this prestigious competitive examination.

We should not compromise on the examination’s quality of competitiveness, and make every effort to strengthen this institute rather than making it spineless.

I believe such pleas would hurt the feelings of previous candidates who were not allocated any group, and may also affect the competitiveness of CSS examinations.

WAQAR ALI BHUTTO Larkana

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  #247  
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Default CSS exams: competitiveness

CSS exams: competitiveness

THIS is apropos of the letter ‘CSS exams: competitiveness’ (Nov 3). The writer has claimed that civil services examinations are merit-based but study shows that their standards are deteriorating fast. Nothing bruises the merit system more than quota, it is antithetical to the structure.

If CSS is to be merit-based, then allocations should be entirely based on excellence regardless of any quotas. Candidates proving their qualities by achieving higher marks should be allocated to groups of their choice in a sequential manner. Any system based on quota defeats the purpose of merit.

It could be argued that quota is indispensable when it comes to considering the neglected segments of society. Agreed, they must be compensated but the quota in CSS is not the solution. The solution to this problem lies in the provincial management services. All the provinces already have public service commissions, which may conduct examinations for those in the public sector such as the police and district management.

The Federal Public Service Commission should hold examinatios only for the members of the federal services such as those in the ministry of foreign affairs and Customs.

This could kill two birds with one stone: promote merit in competitive examinations, as well as mainstream the neglected areas. This does notmeans excluding candidates from deprived regions from appearing in CSS examinations.

They may take part in examinations if they so desire but they will have to compete with candidates from all over Pakistan on an equal basis. Only then the true spirit of competitiveness would be achieved both in federal and in provincial sectors.

AHMER BHATTI
Lahore

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  #248  
Old Tuesday, February 18, 2014
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18.02.2014
Need for meritocracy
By Syed Saadat

THE art of politics lies in saying ‘Yes’ and the art of leadership in saying ‘No’; we in Pakistan have plenty of politicians but hardly a leader. When it comes to making far-reaching decisions, our top man is usually just good enough to sign above the dotted line under the manipulative plans presented by either the khakis or the babus.

One such recent decision was the approval of the induction of 20 Baloch officers of the army into the civil service under the pretext of achieving adequate representation of Balochistan in the country’s civilian bureaucracy. Primarily, officers of the ranks of captain or major will permanently be inducted into the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) in grade 17.

I do not question the intentions of the government, but such decision-making should be backed by analysis. If a prime minister who has a third term in office is not mindful of the sentiments of his people, then a stable Pakistan anywhere in the near future is a fool’s paradise.

Here is the analysis which I wish had been done by the prime minister’s office.

First and foremost, everything legal is not necessarily legitimate. If nepotism is passed into law, it won’t be illegal any more but will remain illegitimate. This is exactly what was done by Gen Ziaul Haq when, in order to appease his parent institution, he introduced the annual induction of officers from the armed forces into the civil service without taking the requisite exam. Such induction, besides being a violation of the rules of merit, is also an insult to the officers of the armed forces which go by the slogan ‘men at their best’.

If an army officer desires to become a diplomat, a public administrator or a police officer, the only gentlemanly way of doing this would be to pass the CSS exam with flying colours and be inducted on the basis of the quota for each province. Instead of revoking what was wrong in principle, the government has reinforced it with the latest decision.

Secondly, if the argument is of extraordinary circumstances calling for extraordinary concessions, even then the induction is illogical since the army also has a limited number of Baloch officers and Baloch representation is required there as much as it is in the civil service.

Third, given an uncomfortable history, the army is not regarded with absolute trust by the people of Balochistan, and inductions from the armed forces would be considered an infringement of the rights of Baloch youth. These officers would be considered representatives of the army rather than representatives of the Baloch. Hence, the purpose behind the induction falls flat on its face.

Though the issue of sparse Baloch representation in the civil service is relevant, the solution proposed by the government is not. Instead, steps taken ought to uphold merit in letter and, more importantly, in spirit. The age limit for entering the civil service should be relaxed by a minimum of seven years for candidates from Balochistan to ensure a level playing field; presently, candidates from developed areas with plenty of educational institutions get a head start as compared to Baloch students. The Pakistan Army has successfully done this for recent recruitments of soldiers from Balochistan.

The benchmark for aspirants from Balochistan should be lowered. The CSS exam requires an aggregate of 50pc for a candidate to qualify but if for Baloch candidates this was lowered to 45pc, the heavens would not fall. A couple of years ago the Pakistan Navy successfully inducted officers from Balochistan in the Short Service Commission without going through the Inter-Services Selection Board. The army also relaxed physical standards to an acceptable degree in recent recruitment. In the long term, precise guidance and plentiful scholarships for Baloch students to study in developed areas would be useful.

These steps are imperative because only the lion-hearted Baloch can brave the pogrom of innocent Hazaras, the abduction of civilians, the use of disproportionate force by the state in the form of military operations which killed their most venerated leaders, and still not choose the ways of outlawed organisations such as the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. Be it diversity in culture or richness of natural resources, Balochistan brings a lot to Pakistan that must be valued and protected.

Lastly, the prime minister must be requested to refrain from robbing the Baloch university student of his dream of becoming a civil servant by doling the position out to an already privileged lot. Similarly, the brave young woman who refuses to give up on the journey of learning despite losing her friends when a bomb ripped through their college bus deserves a fair shot at her dreams.

The writer is a civil servant.

syedsaadatwrites@gmail.com
http://www.dawn.com/news/1087723/need-for-meritocracy
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  #249  
Old Sunday, March 20, 2016
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Group improvers will have to undergo CTP again. The news item appeared in today's Express, 20-03-2016.


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  #250  
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Default Govt to face another tough case in SC

Govt to face another tough case in SC
By Ahmad Noorani
Induction of non-cadre officials into OMG

Establishment Division’s role defended

ISLAMABAD: The government is set to face another tough case in the Supreme Court, as the OMG group officers have moved the apex court for alleged repeated and open violations by the Establishment Division of a historic 2013 judgment on the alleged illegal induction of non-cadre and deputationist favourites of the ruling party into the regular service cadre of the OMG.

The OMG group officers suffering because of the policies of DMG group dominating the Establishment Division and Prime Minister’s Office have earlier written to the human rights cell of the apex court about repeated violation of June 12, 2013 judgment of the Supreme Court under which all the provincial governments and the Establishment Division were ordered not to induct deputationists, inductees and non-cadre officers into regular service cadres meant to be filled through competition examination (CSS) held by the Federal Service Commission.

Keeping in view the twists often given to such judgments by the Establishment Division and the Law Ministry, in this comprehensive judgment the apex court had clearly defined the difference between regular induction through competition and induction through ‘appointment by transfer’.

However, to please political masters and adjust near and dear ones of the ruling party, the DMG baboos misinterpreted the judgment and started inducting transferees, non-cadre officials and deputationists in the OMG.

The OMG group officers have now moved a contempt of court petition against the secretary establishment in the first step in the Supreme Court. The petition is yet to be fixed for hearing.

The OMG officers insist that the Establishment Division was simply following the policy being given to it by the PM Office and the political government was under pressure to induct maximum favourites in the prestigious OMG group during these last months before end of its term.

According to the PM Office, this is dealt by the Establishment Division which can better comment on it.

The Establishment Division officials though not ready to come on record insist that in accordance with an opinion of Ministry of Law, induction of non-cadre officers and deputationists (mostly teachers, doctors etc) in permanent and regular service cadre was very much possible by following a laid down procedure even after COP 89/2011 decided on June 12, 2013.

A senior official in the Establishment Division told The News that they had even issued a notification barring any future induction of non-cadre officers into regular service cadre of OMG but the same was withdrawn as the law ministry’s opinion was different.

The officer admitted that the recommendations of such inductions always came unofficially from the Prime Minister Office. The Establishment Division officials say non-cadre officers were always inducted into the OMG and it has always been a routine.

They say a large chunk of OMG officers basically comprise non-cadre officers. They insist that if relevant rules and procedure was followed such induction was legal and the apex court judgment doesn’t apply here.

A joint secretary in the Establishment Division, who on January 31, 2013 issued a notification barring any illegal induction of non–cadre officers into the CSS cadre of OMG in compliance with apex court orders, had to face consequences and wrath of top DMG baboos in PM office.

Para 183 of the June 2013 judgment reads: “A copy of this judgment be sent to the Chief Justice Sindh High Court through Registrar for circulating it amongst the learned Judges.

A copy of this judgment be also sent to all the Chief Secretaries of the Provinces as well as the Secretary Establishment Division, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad, with the direction to streamline the service structure of civil servants in line with the principles laid down in this judgment.

The Chief Secretary and Secretary, Services, Sindh, are further required to comply with this judgment in letter and spirit and report compliance within three weeks.”

Sindh government, FIA and WWF implemented the apex court judgment. Even Balochistan government also started implementation. However, the Establishment Division never seemed interested in implementation as this was the major and most lucrative benefit that could be offered by the government to its favourits.

The story doesn’t stop here, as the Establishment Division got a summary approved from the PM to set a criteria for 75 seats in the OMG for ex-cadre civil servants and non-civil servants in 2016 despite knowing the fact that the SC had barred any such induction in the garb of 'appointment by transfer ' in CSS cadre OMG.

The SC in CRP 193/2013 had defined the appointment by transfer as a simple transfer & negated it as induction or absorption in a CSS cadre. Credible sources revealed that under instruction of the PM Office it is all set to induct another 90 non-cadre officers, transferees and deputationists into regular CSS cadre of OMG.

Many more will be inducted during the last year of the PML-N government. These will be the political appointments and favourits will become part of CSS cadre group without passing CSS examination.

The apex court in its judgment in review petition CRP 193/2013 announced on 5-1-2013: “Any appointment by transfer under Rule 9(1) has to be for a fixed term, and, on completion of such term, the Civil Servant has to join back his parent department. The word “appointment” used in the Rule 6(A) cannot be equated with the word ‘initial appointment’ used in the Act which excludes appointment by transfer and promotion,” the apex court order had stated.

Under Occupational Groups (Probation, Training, Seniority) rules 1990, “Occupational Group or Service’ means any groups or service recruitment to which is made through the competitive examination conducted by the Commission from time to against BPS-17 posts under the Federal Government or any occupational group or service transfer to which is made from the Armed Forces by induction.”

Hence there can’t be any appointment in OMG except through competitive examination, which has been reaffirmed by the apex court in Crl. Org. 89 of 2011 and its review petition CRP 193/2013.

Wrong interpretation of a 10% quota provision, a number of ex-cadre officers were inducted against the cadre posts of the OMG in the past. However, these inductee officers were required to be repatriated to their parent organisations in the light of judgment and Establishment Division (D&L Wing) office memoranda of January 2014.
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Govt to face another tough case in SC
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