The High Court has observed in a full verdict that keeping a government official as officer on special duty (OSD) for an indefinite period is grossly unfair, unjust and an infraction of a person's fundamental right as guaranteed under Article 31 of the Constitution.
It also observed that such officers face humiliation and degradation not only in the estimation of their colleagues and family members, but also before the society at large. No authority, not even the government, has the right to degrade or malign a person and his family members in society without observing due legal process.
The HC bench of Justice Zubayer Rahman Chowdhury and Justice Sashanka Shekhar Sarkar signed the full text released on the Supreme Court website on Monday, while the short verdict was delivered on January 8, 2020.
Following a writ petition, the High Court in the verdict declared illegal to keep a government official as the officer on special duty for more than 150 days.
Each and every government officer, presently designated as an OSD and in whose case the period of 150 days has elapsed, shall stand released forthwith from the order designating such officer as an OSD and shall revert back to the previous place of posting, also reads the full text.
In the observation, the court also said, "We do not, for a moment, question the authority of the government to designate an officer as an OSD. However, this power must be exercised in accordance with law and only in accordance with law."
"In the event of any officer being designated as an OSD, the government must, without undue delay, form a committee and undertake an inquiry so as to ascertain the veracity of such allegation/complaint. If the allegation/complaint is found to have substance, the government should take appropriate action against the officer concerned, in accordance with law. However, the process of enquiry must be completed within the stipulated period of 150 days," it also observed.
The court ordered to send the copy of the judgment to the senior secretary of the cabinet division, the senior secretary of the ministry of public administration and the rector of the PATC for their information and guidance.
Barrister Annek R Haque, Advocate Md Monjur Nahid, Advocate Mahjerin Musharaf and Advocate Khaleda Chowdhury appeared in the court on behalf of the writ petitioner while former attorney general Mahbubey Alam and others stood for the state.
M Asafuddowlah, a former secretary of the government, filed the writ petition with the High Court in 2012 challenging the legality of keeping a government official as OSD for an indefinite time.