The Hyderabad circuit bench of the Sindh High Court (SHC) has declared the Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC) defunct. The bench — led by Justice Zulfiqar Ahmed Khan and Justice Muhammad Saleem Jessar — also ruled that “all tests, interviews, selection, appointments, tenders or any act doable under SPSC Act, 1989, or the rules are suspended forthwith”. The commission, which has served to recruit government officers for Sindh for over 30 years, has often come under fire for nepotism and corruption. Moreover, the court also suspended the SPSC Act, 1989 — as well as and two other enactments governing the SPSC — declaring it ultra vires to the Constitution.
The ruling was made in response to six identical petitions that challenged the appointment of medical officers in 2018, where the petitioners had claimed that they had been disregarded for an interview despite sufficient marks in the written test. Moreover, those who had not even cleared the test were called for an interview due to their political affiliations, the petitioners submitted. While the court had earlier suspended the SPSC’s proceedings until it proved transparency, the final ruling of nullifying the commission proves that the court was right in its earlier ruling. The commission has clearly failed to prove that its selection criterion has been transparent and purely based on merit. Moreover, it has also failed to inform the court of why the chief minister, and not the governor, of the province was involved in the appointments made at the SPSC, unlike in other provinces.
For years the SPSC has been used by the Sindh government to employ undeserving candidates into the provincial government. It had overreached its jurisdiction by appointing chairpersons and members of the commission, and also by failing to implement an age restriction for both chairperson and members. The unaccounted and unlimited years of appointments have damaged the provincial bureaucracy as unqualified persons occupy government positions, funded by taxpayer money. The mammoth-sized archaic departments bear witness to the officers’ incompetency while the sluggish pace of work shows the inefficiency of the departments. It is hoped that with the discontinuation of the SPSC, the Sindh government corrects its ways and employs officers who are worthy and also worth the buck. Moreover, it should do away with any employee that was hired through nepotism, to cut down on the burgeoning bureaucracy feeding on the provincial treasury.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2021.
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