KARACHI: Sindh High Court (SHC) has ruled that Abandoned Properties Organization (APO) is an autonomous body and its employees can’t enjoy the status of a civil servant under the Civil Servants Act, 1973.

A division bench of SHC gave this ruling in the judgment of petition, which questioned whether the petitioners employed in APO were civil servants, within the meaning of Civil Servants Act, 1973, and were thus governed by OMs dated 6.9.2000, 30.11.2005 and 23.11.2020, in the matter relating to their Service/pensioner benefits.

According to written order of the bench comprising Justice Irfan Saadat Khan and Justice Adnan-ul-Karim Memon released on Thursday, court declared that APO employees were not civil servants on the premise that they are governed under the Abandoned Properties (Management) Act, 1975 and in terms of Section 26 the Board of Trustees is empowered to appoint or employ such officer and servant for the efficient performance of its functions on such terms and conditions as may be determined.

“Prima-facie, the terms and conditions of employees of APO are not governed under the Civil Servants Act and Rules framed thereunder, thus, they are not Civil Servants”, bench ruled.

Earlier, Deputy Attorney General (DAG) contested the plea of petitioners by submitting that Establishment Division is of the view that the employees of APO are not Civil Servants in terms of section 4, 26 and 30 of the Abandoned Properties (Management) Act, 1975 and referred to Rule 3 (3) of Rules of Business 1973 and submitted that the terms and conditions of the service of the petitioners are not governed under the Civil Servants Act, 1973 and the rules framed thereunder, as such they are not Civil Servants.

However, he principally agreed for disposal of this petition in the light of Abandoned Properties (Management) Service Rules, 1981, and submitted that the petitioners shall be treated under the law and Service Rules, 1981, and as per their entitlement, the petitioners will be provided with the service benefits i.e. Gratuity or Contributory Provident Fund subject to the provision of Abandoned Properties Organization Employees C P Funds Rules, and other facilities.

Court ordered that petitioners shall be provided their due service benefits, as admissible under the relevant law, if not earlier paid to them; and, no discriminatory treatment shall be meted out with them.

Court by disposing the petition court directed to pay all service benefits to retired employees within one month.