Dr. Shaafi’s appointment questioned

Dr. Shaafi’s appointment questioned

Written by Staff Writer

28 May, 2019 | 8:59 pm

Colombo (News 1st): Several factions raised questions on Dr Shaafi Shihabdeen’s reinstatement in the medical service after contesting in the 2015 general elections. Dr Shaafi Shihabdeen resigned from his position at the Ministry of Health on July 3rd 2015, to contest in the general elections.

The ministry accepted his letter of resignation, with effect from 3rd July 3rd 2015. However, the date indicated in the letter is December 16 2015. Following his defeat at the general elections, the doctor in question filed an appeal at the Health Ministry on August 8th 2016, requesting to reinstate him in the medical service.

Responding to his appeal, the Ministry of Health informed him that he will be assigned to the Dambulla Hospital on a temporary basis under the 1:3:1 section of the 32nd chapter of the establishment code.

The letter was issued under the official seal of the Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Health Dr Amal Harsha de Silva.

Assistant Secretary of the GMOA Naveen De Soysa noted that the appeal was filed on August 9th 2016 and the cabinet approval was given on July 21st 2016. He added that the question arises as to how an appeal filed on August 9th got cabinet approval on July 21st 2016.

He said the letter talks about 1:3:1 section of the 32nd chapter of the establishment code, but there is no such thing. He stated it was also instructed to assign him back to the Kurunegala hospital based on the annual transfers in 2014 and this is the problem.

de Soysa notes he was assigned to the Kurunegala Hospital through a transfer, violating the establishment code and they had given him the seniority as of the last time. He added they can’t do that and it’s clearly stated on the 30th page of the establishment code.

The establishment code clearly states that a staffer or a supervising officer of public service cannot enjoy political privileges. Such an individual should resign from his position before contesting in a general election, where it will be considered as a retirement.

According to the establishment code, an officer subject to political privileges can contest in elections by obtaining no- pay leave, with the condition of reinstating him only on a temporary basis. Dr Shaafi had contested in the general elections, after resigning from his position as an internal staff officer.

However, the Ministry of Health reinstated him based on the regulations as an employee of temporary service. According to the public administration circular No. 32 of 2017, a doctor is a senior member in staff.

Attorney at Law Premanath C. Dolawatte noted that the Public Service Commission said that they have issued a letter stating that he cannot be appointed and the cabinet says that according to the 55th section of the constitution, there’s a right to make an appeal.

Dolawatte noted he has not been appointed as a permanent staff member, therefore it is illegal. He said the cabinet can make policy changes on public sector officials, but they cannot treat one particular employee in this manner, by doing so they have clearly violated the constitution.

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