This Commission holds that mere insertion of clause xxxii of existing conservancy agreement 2020-2021 does not absolve the Respondent from its responsibility to ensure that labour laws of the land are being adhered to by the conservancy contractor with regard to the payment of minimum wages to the staff working for the Respondent as announced by the Government from time to time as public funds are involved. As held by the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan in Naimatullah Khan and others v. Federation of Pakistan (2020 SCMR 513), while relying on Habibullah Energy Limited and another v. WAPDA and others (PLD 2014 SC 47), it is a well settled principle of law that all public functionaries must exercise public authority, especially while dealing with the public property, public funds, or assets in a fair, just, transparent and reasonable manner, untainted by mala fide, without discrimination and in accordance with law, keeping in view the Constitutional rights of the citizens”. That further, in Hakeem Muhammad Saeed v. Deputy Commissioner, Vehari and others (PLD 2020 Lahore 110), dealing with the right to information, the Lahore High Court found, at paragraph 3: “Right to information is the right that a citizen has, of access to information from the government and statutory bodies that receive public funds. RTI is based on the principle that information belongs to the people. It boosts transparency, which in turn strengthens accountability, reduces corruption and improves delivery of public services”.
This Commission is of the view that it is responsibility of the public bodies to maintain records of all the transactions to ensure that public funds, spent directly, or, through contractors, to perform official functions, are utilized in accordance with the laws of the land. In Nisar Khan Khattak v. Haji Adam, Director General (Admin), PEMRA and another (2021 PLC (C.S.) 140), the Islamabad High Court observed, at paragraph 12: “Every holder of a public office by virtue of which he acts on behalf of the State or public body is ultimately accountable to the people in whom the sovereignty vests. As such, all powers so vested in him are meant to be exercised for public good and promoting the public interest. This is equally true of all actions even in the field of contract. Thus, every holder of a public office is a trustee whose highest duty is to the people of the country, and therefore, every act of the holder of a public office, irrespective of the label classifying that act, is in discharge of public duty meant ultimately for public good”. Further, in the Lahore High Court held, at paragraph 4, relying on Shaukat Ali v. Government Dildar Ali v. D.C.O. Chiniot and others (2015 CLC 1141), of Pakistan (PLD 1997 SC 342): “It is held that State functionaries are expected to act fairly and justly in a manner which should not give to any one any cause of complaint on account of discriminatory treatment or otherwise. While discharging official functions, efforts should be made by State functionaries to ensure that no one is denied the right to earn his livelihood because of the unfair or discriminatory act on their part”.
It is apparent from the response that the Respondent has not maintained record pertaining to the use of public funds, which is a serious matter of maladministration.
Cantonment Executive Officer, Cantonment Board Malir is directed to maintain records pertaining to the minimum wages paid to the staff hired through the contractor, ensuring through means of verification that funds are spent in accordance with the relevant labour laws of the country from the day of the receipt of this Order and submit compliance report to this commission after one month of the receipt of this Order.
Cantonment Executive Officer, Cantonment Board Malir is directed to conduct enquiry as to why the Respondent has failed to maintain records pertaining to the minimum wages paid to the staff hired through the contractor, reflecting through means of verification involving the input from staff and the contractor that funds were spent in accordance with the relevant labour laws of the land from the date of the signing of the contract and share the enquiry report with this commission within one month of the receipt of this Order.