Pay salaries or face contempt, SC tells govt
18 August, 2012
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday ordered all provincial governments to pay salaries to the lady health workers (LHWs) today (Saturday), otherwise contempt of court proceedings would be started against officials concerned.
A three-member bench of the SC, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry, was hearing an application filed by Pakistan Health Worker Employees Association Chairwoman Bushra Arain regarding non-payment of salaries to LHWs.
Deputy Attorney General Aleem Abbasi informed the court that the federal government had despatched funds to the provincial governments in this regard. The State Bank of Pakistan has also confirmed that the Finance Division had deposited the funds in provincial governments accounts, he added.
However, a representative of the Planning Commission informed the court that due to non-availability of the secretary a delay was caused in transferring of funds to provinces. The CJP asked who would be responsible if people die of hunger. He observed that the job, which had to be completed on July 15, was done on August 15, therefore the Finance Division and the provincial governments were responsible for it.
The petitioner said that they were forced to celebrate Eid without salaries. They demanded that the court imprison the officials responsible for the delay. While agreeing with her, Justice Azmat Saeed said it was a good idea. The CJP said it was the responsibility of the state to protect the fundamental rights of the people. He said non-payment of salaries fell in the sphere of contempt of court and warned that proceedings could be initiated against the officials if the court was not complied.
Earlier, the advocate generals of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa informed the court that the federal government had transferred the salaries in their accounts on August 17. They said further they would pay salaries to the LHWs. However, the Balochistan advocate general informed the court that they had not received the funds from the federal government so far, adding that the provincial government had decided to pay them salaries from its own funds.
The hearing was suspended for an interval. After the interval, a two-member bench, minus the CJP, heard the case. The bench directed the National and Habib banks to make sure that the workers get salaries today (Saturday), while the finance secretaries of all provinces and the AGPR were ordered to submit a compliance report in this regard. The workers have been protesting against non-payment of salaries and against the government's failure to regularise their services for several months. The hearing was adjourned for two weeks.