The Civil Court has overruled the home ministry’s decision to cut allowances for ‘responsible officers’ at atoll and island offices.
The Civil Service Commission (CSC) took the home ministry to court over the matter after it rescinded the allowances of the CSC-appointed responsible officers, the highest-ranking civil servant in the island and atoll offices tasked with overseeing organisational tasks and liaising with the commission.
The court ruled that the CSC’s responsibility under the Civil Service Act was to set the “tasks, responsibilities, rights and powers of civil servants, free of outside influence,” and that there was no legal obstacle to appointing responsible officers or giving them an allowance for additional work as the appointments were made “within the bounds of the law”.
The court ordered that the directive from the home ministry to the province offices “not to carry out the duties of the civil servants appointed as responsible officers, and give them allowances, shall be invalidated.”
CSC spokesperson Mohamed Fahmy Hassan said while the president-appointed island councillor’s role was to oversee the atoll and island offices, the responsible officers’ role of selecting and promoting civil servants was not conducted by political appointees.
“The government misunderstands and distrusts [the CSC] and is unable to accept what [worked] before [it was in power],” Fahmy said.
State Minister for the South Central Province, Ahmed Mujthaba, said the ruling would “really obstruct adminstration and provision of services and is in conflict with the very basis of the civil service.”
“The civil service is subordinate to the government – you can’t have them operating as a parallel government,” he said. “They are saying this is about independence but what they are creating is something very dangerous, by giving civil servants the message that they are subordinate to the CSC and not the government.”
“[Civil servants] will show allegiance and respect and readiness to those with the power to promote and transfer them – that is very basic human resources,” Mujthaba claimed.
“If that is the message, the civil servants cannot be induced to work on government programs. I don’t think this government can implement the programs it has promised with the way the civil service is currently set up.”
Mujthaba said he had observed the problem “first hand” administering his own province office: “The rules are so rigid that we can’t effectively operate a government.”
He added that it was “very unfair” for the CSC to assume the government would politicise the civil service if given a free hand.
“People elected the government because they know it is responsible. If we violate [civil servants] rights then there are people they can call. What the CSC is doing is purposely hindering the government’s development efforts. There are elements in the civil service against the government, and this is something I call on the president to look into.”