Supreme Court scraps petitions challenging civil servants integrationCourt also revoked integration in some cases including where civil servants were adjusted in junior positions than their previous ones at the local level.
The Supreme Court has upheld the decision of the erstwhile KP Sharma Oli government to integrate civil servants in different tiers of government.
The Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday annulled 85 out of 98 petitions filed by civil servants challenging the integration.
The bench, however, has issued an order to revise the integration in some of the technical positions mainly under the Ministry of Health and Population. It has issued a writ of mandamus against the integration in 13 other petitions. The court has revoked the integration only in the cases where the civil servants were adjusted in junior positions than their previous ones and in cases where civil servants were integrated without creating suitable positions for them at the local level.
“The court has annulled most of the petitions challenging the integration,” Bimal Poudel, spokesperson for the Supreme Court, told the Post. “This has opened the door for the Public Service Commission to call new vacancies. Details will be out once the text of the order is published.”
The bench didn’t issue the verdict in writing on Tuesday.
The Oli administration in early 2019, adjusted 39,960 civil servants at the federal level, 13,821 at the provincial level and 43,807 at the local level. However, many of the gazetted third class and non-gazetted first class officers, who were adjusted at the local level, were not satisfied with the process.
They said since they were hired by the government before the country became a federal state, they must be placed under the federal civil service. The dissatisfied civil servants challenged the government’s decision, which was taken as per Civil Service Adjustment Act, 2017, at the Supreme Court.
They said the integration was against Article 302 of the constitution which says the government can integrate the personnel working in government services at the time of commencement of this constitution into the provincial and local levels.
In their petitions, they claimed that those who were hired through competitive exams conducted by the commission after the promulgation of the constitution cannot be adjusted at the local or provincial level.
The petitioners also argued that they were forced to work under local governments though there were abundant positions at the federal level to adjust them.
A full bench of the court on January 26 had refused to issue an order on behalf of the petitioners saying the integration process was constitutional. The bench led by Justice Ananda Mohan Bhattarai with justices Sapana Pradhan Malla and Nahakul Subedi as members observed that the government can integrate civil servants without hampering their career growth.
Dissatisfied with the verdict, the civil servants filed petitions demanding a review of an earlier decision.
After hearing the petitions, a division bench of justices Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada and Til Prasad Shrestha on May 31 said the decision on the petitions should be made by an extended full bench. The bench found necessary to review the decision of the full bench.
The Constitutional Bench led by acting Chief Justice Deepak Kumar Karki was hearing the cases after the ruling from the division bench.
Those, who filed the petitions, say as they were hired centrally they must be allowed to work under the federal civil service though they were ready to work in any offices they were transferred to.
“We had demanded that the integration should be at the choice of civil servants. It was wrong to adjust us at the local level while we were hired by the centre,” Jaya Ram Gajurel, who has been posted at Budhanilkantha Municipality, told the Post. “However, with Tuesday’s verdict we have two options left: either quit or follow what the government had done.”
The delay in the final verdict had halted hiring by the Public Service Commission for two years for some positions and up to three years for several other positions.
Toy Narayan Subedi, spokesperson for the Public Service Commission, said hiring for hundreds of positions was halted for lack of verdict from the Supreme Court.
“We were desperately waiting for the court’s verdict to start hiring for at least around 1,000 positions under the technical and non-technical groups,” he told the Post.