1. Through this constitutional petition under Article 199 of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, the petitioner seeks direction to the respondents to give 3½ years relaxation in lower age limit and allow the petitioner to appear in the test/examination for the post of Deputy Director Technical (BPS-18) in Anti-Corruption Establishment Department (ACE) advertised by the Punjab Public Service Commission. He also seeks direction to the respondents to amend the Anti Corruption Establishment Service Rules, 2007 for the post of Deputy Director Technical (BS-18) and to fix the minimum age for the post of Deputy Director Technical as 28 years.
2. The contentions of learned counsel for the petitioner are that the petitioner has served on a number of key posts such as Assistant Director (Engineering) and Project Director and while his posting in F.I.A., he has successfully pointed out embezzlement of millions of rupees as well as irregularities committed in award of the projects; that the petitioner fulfills all the requirements of the post of Deputy Director (Technical) except condition of lower age limit; that the condition of lower age limit of 35 years is harsh and is also not in line with that of other post in the same grade in the ACE such as Deputy Director I.T. (BS-18) where the prescribed age limit is 28 to 35 years; that imposing condition of lesser age for the post of Deputy Director (Technical) is against fundamental right of the petitioner who otherwise is eligible for the post; that the said condition is against law and is discriminatory to the petitioner, therefore, this writ petition be allowed, the said condition be waived off and the petitioner be given relaxation of 3½ years lower age limit.
3. On the other hand, learned Law Officer assisted by learned counsel for respondent No.5 has vehemently opposed this writ petition mainly on the grounds that the impugned condition of lower age limit is not discriminatory to the petitioner as it applies to all the prospective candidates and this is a policy matter wherein the courts should not interfere with unless fundamental rights of the citizens are infringed which could not be established by the petitioner.
4. Arguments heard. Record perused.
5. Admittedly, the Punjab Public Service Commission through an advertisement sought for applications for the post of Deputy Director (Technical) in the ACE. The petitioner along with others applied for the said post. There was a specific condition regarding age limit in the advertisement which is reproduced below:
“2. AGE: 35 to 45 + 5 years: 50 years for Male Candidates across the board, age relaxation is admissible as prescribed by S&GAD No. Notification No.DS (O&M) 5-3/2004/Contract (MF) dated 29.12.2004 on 29-06-2015.”
Perusal of above clearly reveals that while advertising the post, a condition regarding minimum age limit of 35 years was imposed upon all the prospective candidates. The said condition was not put upon the petitioner but upon all those who desire to compete for the said position. Each and every prospective candidate as well as the respondent departments may be bound by the conditions mentioned in the advertisement. The petitioner was undeniably aged about 31½ years on the closing date of applications, therefore, he being underage could not apply for the said post as he was ineligible for the said post in view of the said condition of age limit of 35 to 45 years. However, relaxation of age is the prerogative of the competent authority which can be exercised by the Authority in accordance with the rules and regulations framed for the purpose but it can not be claimed by a candidate as that of a vested right.
6. The contention of learned counsel for the petitioner is that for another post, i.e. Deputy Director I.T. (BS-18) in the ACE, the age limit has been prescribed as 28 to 35 years, as such, the condition of age limit for the post of Deputy Director (Technical) be also dragged down to the level of 28 years so that the petitioner may become eligible for the said post. Rules for every post are framed on the recommendations of the Service Rules Committee with the approval of the Chief Minister/Competent Authority under Section 23 of the Punjab Civil Servants Act, 1974. The rules for the post of Deputy Director (Technical) were also framed on the recommendations of ACE by adopting the said procedure. The minimum age limit in different Service Rules is prescribed keeping in view the required maturity of the person for a particular job. The posts of Deputy Director (IT) and Deputy Director (Technical) are different from each other with regard to their functions/responsibilities/duties, as such, they cannot be treated in one and the same way. Even otherwise, it is the prerogative of the concerned department to frame rules, relax or otherwise some condition imposed in accordance with law but none can claim it as a matter of right. Furthermore, there is also a post of Deputy Director Research Development & Training (BS-18) which also entails the age limit of 35 to 45 years which is the same as for the post of Deputy Director (Technical). The contention of learned counsel for the petitioner lacks force which is accordingly discarded.
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