The Sindh High Court (SHC) has issued notices to the establishment secretary, the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) and others on a petition against the quota system in the Central Superior Services (CSS) competitive examinations.
M Tariq Mansoor said in his petition that the period prescribed in the first proviso of Article 27(1) of the country’s constitution for reserving posts for persons belonging to a class or area to secure their adequate representation in service of Pakistan had expired long ago but it was still being applied to such applicants.
The petitioner said that such a restriction was discriminatory and contrary to the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution to the citizens of the country for joining service of Pakistan.
He said that the period of 40 years contained in the first proviso of Article 27(1) had already expired in 2013, but subsequent CSS competitive exams had been held by the FPSC from 2014 until last year on quota-based allocation of service in violation of the constitution.
He also said that the quota system was still illegally and unlawfully applicable to specific areas, including the determining of the share of various areas in making appointments in the bureaucracy through the competitive exams.
He further said that the federal government had issued a notification with regard to holding the CSS competitive exams without amending the rules for the open merit system throughout the country.
He requested the court to declare that the quota system in the CSS competitive exams was against the scheme and structure of the constitution, which provided equal opportunity of employment to all citizens, and to direct the federal government to accordingly amend the CSS exam rules for the forthcoming exams on open merit.
After the preliminary hearing of the petition, the SHC’s division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar issued notices to establishment secretary, the FPSC, the law ministry and others with the direction to file their comments by January 21.
Earlier this month, the SHC had issued notices to the federal and provincial governments as well as the attorney generals of Pakistan and the province on a petition seeking the abolition of the quota system in the country.
Pasban Democratic Party Chairman Altaf Shakoor said in his petition that the quota system is practically dead and buried after expiring in 2013 because the constitutional cover is no more available to it, so in the absence of extending the period, implementing the quota regime has already become unlawful.
He claimed that successive governments had tried their best to continue the expired quota system on various pretexts. He said that in 1999 the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government had extended the quota system, adding that in 2017 it had revised the system and agreed that the quota issue should be taken to the Council of Common Interests so that all four provinces could get equal representation while a debate should also be held on it in parliament.
He also said the federal and provincial governments had killed merit by continuing to enforce an unjust system and had hurt merit-based induction in the CSS.
He pointed out that only 7.5 per cent of the seats were reserved for open merit while the remaining 92.5 per cent were reserved for quota-based applicants, regardless of their eligibility.
Shakoor said that according to the quota system, the ratio of the provinces in government jobs was as follows: Punjab 50 per cent, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 11.5 per cent, Sindh 11.4 per cent, Balochistan six per cent, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Gilgit-Baltistan four per cent, and Azad Jammu & Kashmir two per cent.
He said the quota system distribution showed that one could not apply in any other province, which was in bad faith and unconstitutional, and exposed criminal intent as regards the educated young generation of urban Sindh, especially Karachi, because the policy deprived the city’s youth of bureaucratic seats as well as of service in the federation and in the province.
He also said that advertisements for jobs in the Karachi Port Trust, which was situated in Karachi, clearly invited applications from the entire Pakistan, excluding Karachi, which was a unique example of inequality and deprivation because first priority was always supposed to be given to the locals first and priority should be given to the locals. The situation is the same when it comes to the Pakistan Navy, he added.
The petitioner said the quota system was the root cause of racism in the country, resulting in widespread economic disparity and hatred among the people. The outcome is that 90 per cent of the country’s bureaucrats are recruited through lowering the selection criteria, thus depriving intelligent and eligible Pakistanis from serving the nation, resulting in inefficiency, corruption and racism as well as destruction of the country, he added.
He said the quota system had resulted in the collapse of the country in the economic zone, adding that debts had been increased, thus putting the country on the grey list, while it was heading towards the black list due to the inefficiency of the bureaucracy of the federation and the province.
He also said the quota system had caused irreparable damage to the whole nation, the economy of the country and the entire public, adding that the country ranked the lowest when compared to others in economy, education, health, science, development, etc.
He requested the court to declare the quota system illegal because it had expired, and to direct the federal and provincial governments to cancel all appointments made on quota after 2013 and to fill the vacant slots again on the basis of merit through open competition.
After the preliminary hearing of the petition, the SHC’s division bench headed by Justice Nadeem Akhtar issued notices to the attorney generals of Pakistan and Sindh with the direction to file comments by January 18.