Keeping a public servant OSD for indefinite period is illegal
Either prove charges, or reinstate staff within 150 days
Enjoying 'unearned incomes' in prolonged OSD status violates Constitution
OSD employees, their children face negative social impacts
The dillydallying is grossly unfair, unjust and basic rights violation
The High Court (HC) has said charges against a public employee on the basis of which the person is made an officer on special duty (OSD) must be settled within 150 days.
The court in its full verdict published on Monday said the government must form a committee to look into the charges. If the committee finds the allegations against the OSD official true, then punitive action must be taken.
Otherwise, the official will have to be reinstated to the post within 150 days, added the HC.
Copies of the verdict have been sent to the cabinet secretary, senior secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration and the Public Administration Training Centre.
On 8 January last year, a HC bench of Justice Zubayer Rahman Chowdhury and Justice Sashanka Shekhar Sarkar declared keeping a government employee OSD for over 150 days illegal. The court issued the order after the final hearing on a writ petition filed by former secretary Mohammad Asafuddowla in June 2012.
According to the government report submitted to the court during the hearing, 962 public employees were made OSD from 2008 to 2012, who drew Tk1,032,564,537 in salaries and bonuses during their tenure as OSD.
Besides, 12 officers were made OSD in 2019.
The officers who are now OSD are hardly attending office. But they are enjoying full salaries and other benefits at the end of every month, the HC said in the full verdict, adding that this is "manifestly in contravention" of the Constitution.
"In other words, the government itself is violating the provisions of Article 20 (2) of the Constitution by allowing the officials to enjoy 'unearned income'. Obviously, this could not have been the purpose of the Legislature," observed the court.
The court also noted that the social standing of the children of the OSD officials is also getting hurt.
Referring to the social context of the country, the HC said, "When a person is made to remain an OSD for an indefinite period, it has a negative impact and effect on the immediate family members and relatives of the person."
The court cited the cases of two female public officers who had been OSD for 18 years since 2001, and said, "Needless to observe that the process of keeping an officer as an OSD for an indefinite period will certainly hinder the matrimonial prospects of the children."
"In our view, this is grossly unfair, unjust and an infraction of a person's fundamental right, as guaranteed under Article 31 of the Constitution."
In the brief ruling last year, the HC ordered the government to take officials kept as OSD for more than 150 days back to their original posts. The court also directed the public administration secretary to form a committee headed by a senior secretary to determine the legal fate of officers on special duty.
In June 2012, former secretary Mohammad Asafuddowla filed the writ challenging the existing system of keeping officials as OSD without any reason being assigned for unlimited periods of time.
The writ petition said officers are often made OSD for an indefinite period though the Ministry of Public Administration has a provision of keeping someone as an OSD for a minimum of 45 days and a maximum of 150 days.