Re-test Roulette

On June 29, 2024, a significant judicial decision emerged from the Sindh High Court (SHC) bench, led by Justice Zafar Ahmed Rajput, which has far-reaching implications for the recruitment process in Sindh’s public sector. The SHC bench issued an order to withdraw the entire recruitment process for positions ranging from BPS 1 to BPS 15, directing the Government of Sindh to re-advertise and conduct appointments in accordance with the law. This directive came in response to a suit filed by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) in August 2023, which challenged over 100 advertisements for job vacancies across various departments in Sindh. These positions, categorized into Graduation, Intermediate, and Matriculation, were meant to fill roles from BPS 5 to BPS 15.

The SHC’s decision to halt the recruitment process has been a severe disappointment for thousands of candidates who had been eagerly awaiting their turn based on their performance and marks. Many had invested significant time, effort, and financial resources in the hope of securing these positions. However, the court’s ruling did not provide a clear mechanism for ensuring transparency and meritocracy in the re-advertised recruitment process. This has raised concerns about the future of fair and transparent hiring practices in the province.

In November 2021, the Sindh Government initiated a large-scale recruitment drive to fill thousands of positions across various departments. A new testing model was introduced, allowing candidates to apply for three categories—Graduation, Intermediate, and Matriculation—based on their qualifications. Applicants were required to submit an online application along with a challan of PKR 1500 per category. Although the exact number of applicants is unavailable, it is estimated that over 300,000 candidates applied in each category. This suggests that the Government of Sindh collected more than PKR 1.35 billion solely from the challan fees.

The financial burden on candidates did not end with the challan fee. Each candidate had to spend an average of PKR 4500 to apply for all three categories, including additional costs for those who lacked access to laptops and had to pay for application services at shops. After qualifying, candidates were required to pay PKR 300 for certificates issued by a third party and PKR 500 for courier services and document photocopies, bringing the total expenditure to over PKR 5000 per candidate. This expense is particularly significant in Sindh, where many people struggle to make ends meet.

The SHC’s decision has profound implications for the candidates who had already invested in the application process. Thousands of candidates had prepared extensively for the tests, incurring additional travel and preparation expenses. The abrupt cancellation of the recruitment process has not only nullified their efforts but also raised questions about the transparency and integrity of the recruitment process in Sindh.

This is not an isolated incident. The Sindh Government has a history of canceling and re-conducting recruitment processes, which has often been marred by allegations of nepotism and corruption, particularly in the Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC). The recurring pattern of irregularities has eroded public trust in the recruitment process and has left many qualified candidates disillusioned.

In light of these issues, it is imperative for the Sindh Government to establish a transparent and efficient recruitment process. The SHC’s decision should have included clear guidelines to ensure that the re-advertised positions do not require reapplication from those who have already applied. Moreover, there should be a robust mechanism in place to guarantee merit-based hiring and to prevent any form of corruption or nepotism.

The recruitment process must also be expedited to address the concerns of candidates who are at risk of exceeding the age limit for government jobs. A swift and transparent hiring process would not only restore public confidence but also ensure that deserving candidates are not unfairly disadvantaged.

The SHC’s decision to withdraw the recruitment process for BPS 1 to 15 positions and mandate a re-advertisement is a critical development in the ongoing struggle for transparent and fair hiring practices in Sindh. While the intention behind the decision is to ensure compliance with the law, it is essential for the Sindh Government to address the underlying issues of transparency and efficiency in the recruitment process. By doing so, the government can uphold the principles of meritocracy and fairness, providing hope and opportunities for thousands of aspiring candidates in the province.

Ali Gul Leghari- Johi 

Teacher and Writer 

Member-PFUC pakistan.