Thousands of government employees breathed a sigh of relief as the Supreme Court on Friday exercised its suo motu jurisdiction and reinstated them. At least 16,000 of them were rendered jobless through the August 17 judgment on the previous order of Sacked Employees (Reinstatement) Ordinance Act 2010. Justice Mushir Alam, presiding over the case had declared the PPP-era Act, under which a number of people were employed or promoted, ‘illegal and unconstitutional’. However, the bench hearing the case on Friday, dismissed all review petitions on the order by a majority of 4:1 and restored all employees from 1996 to 1999.
The announcement of the order saw hundreds of men and women standing outside the court, waiting anxiously for their fate, celebrate and chant slogans in favor of the apex court. At a time when the country is faced with enormous price hikes and rising inflation, joblessness has made it difficult for people to survive. Reports of unemployed individuals taking their own lives have unfortunately become frequent. The Trading Economics Global Macro Model and Analysts predicts that unemployment rate in Pakistan is likely to go up to five percent by the end of this year. In the wake of this, reinstatement of sacked employees will help at least a few thousand families cope with the economic crisis the country is faced with. “The rule of law is not merely public order. It is social justice based on public order. The law exists to ensure proper social life by balancing the needs of the society and the individual,” said Justice Mansoor Shah in his note of dissent.
The court’s decision has restored people’s faith in the judiciary. The PPP who had passed the Act in 2010 to reinstate employees after the PML-N had sacked them, had also failed to support them as they ran pillar to post after the court’s August 17 order. But its leadership was quick to release a statement following the decision, which said “the PPP has always stood by the working class”. Political parties have always used the working class for political gains. Their stands have been more populist than legal. The ruling party too sought eviction of these employees from their official residences, while the apex court was yet to decide on their fate. Such an attitude needs to change and political parties must remember that it is this working class who brings them into power.