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Misuse of 17-A recruitments to cease

Committee recommends only permanently incapacitated get benefits

The Punjab government has recommended recruiting the children or widows of permanently incapacitated officials during service only.

Initially, it was said that the recruitments would be in grade on to grade seven ministerial staff.

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Earlier, many government employees used to misuse the article of law 17-A. This law ensured recruitment of the children of officials who have been invalidated during service. The law was introduced to financially support those who were no longer able to earn their livelihood. But, later it was found that the law was grossly violated by some civil servants.

Many in connivance with the public sector hospitals got certificates even a few days prior to their retirement just to enable their offspring to become their successors in the government departments. Services hospitals in Lahore and district headquarters in respective districts usually issued such certificates to enable recruitments in their place. Even in cases where officials could do less laborious jobs, they declared them unable to do so and therefore fit for availing 17-A cushion for their children, even though categories of disabilities like A and B were introduced. Category B was for those who were mildly disabled or incapacitated.

Sources said that recommendations to recruit family members of only incapacitated individuals were formulated and forwarded to the Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar for final say. However, the CM hasn’t taken any decision on the summary.

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As per details, sources further told that the Punjab government noticed that rule 17-A was being fully misused and that this had become a routine matter. It was also reported that not only civil servants but also autonomous bodies adopted this rule.

Corporations, Lahore Development Authority, Punjab Horticulture Authority, Lawrence Gardens, school and health departments and many more enrolled thousands of people.
Moreover, it was also learnt that during the complete ban on recruitment this door to enter government remained open.

Meanwhile, in some cases, the government refused to entertain some aspirants. They approached the Lahore High Court that allowed their appeals. The courts also remarked that the government should recruit such people under 17-A.

The then Chief Secretary Major (r) Azam Suleman constituted a committee to look into the issue and formulate recommendations. The committee was comprised of the secretaries to finance and regulations (S&GAD) departments.

The committee recommended that rule A was being misused. It recommended to the chief secretary that the hospitals should only certify in cases of permanently disability. The doctors shouldn’t certify such cases in category B.

Buzdar, however, constituted another committee to further look into the matter. Law Minister Raja Basharat in the committee’s chair also recommended that the law was misused. It was suggested to the competent authority, the CM, to recruit children of only permanently incapacitated officials.

Sources told that the CM office hasn’t returned the summary so far. Perhaps, the political policymakers don’t like to go against this popular norm, they guessed.

An official of the finance department told that indiscriminate use of 17-A had gone viral and was against the spirit of the law. Moreover, it had become an Achilles Heel to get a government job easily. It had become a common practice to get early retirement on medical grounds and thus benefit from this rule. It was just a privilege so it was thought fit to use this door to enter into the government sector, he added.

Proclaimed work dodgers and corrupt officials using this law, usually retired just before their planned retirement to get their sons inducted in the public sector.

The effects of this misuse of the law were surely poor service delivery and lack of good governance, the official said. He said that such inductees couldn’t be replacements of those who were inducted through a competitive process by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC). He said they also availed benefits in the PPSC examinations as the commission additionally awarded ten marks.

Moreover, the Punjab government had announced a financial assistance package for the deceased employees and their families. Not only full pay would be continued till retirement but the family of the deceased could also keep official accommodation.

An official of the regulation wing said that the use of 17-A was a duplication of welfare. There was no use of this law even for the deceased official, he held. He said that many people benefited from this law for generations. This was against the principle of open merit and usurpation of the right of the competent aspirant. He said that there was financial assistance of Rs2 million to Rs4 million in addition to other benefits. Group insurance, marriage grant, pension, general provident fund, education, health cover, monthly benevolent grant etc. were also added.




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