CIVIL servants facing investigation for alleged wrong-doing could still get full pay, if the Shura Council gets its way.
Members voted yesterday to amend an article drafted by the government as part of the Civil Service Law.
The government's proposal said that civil servants under investigation would be suspended on half-pay.
But Shura members said this was unconstitutional since the person under investigation must be presumed innocent until proven guilty and should therefore not be penalised while under investigation.
They voted to amend Article 63, following a heated argument between members, government representatives, the council's legal affairs committee members and its adviser.
The vote was against the recommendation of the committee to keep the article, which was passed by parliament without amendment, in the form it was drafted by the government.
The original article stipulated that employees could be suspended for a maximum of three months during a work-related investigation, on an order from the Cabinet for senior officials and from the relevant authority for other employees.
However, a provision in the article also stipulated that employees should be paid only half of their salaries during the suspension period.
The council backed a proposal by Fuad Al Hijji to scrap the entire second part of the provision related to the salary cut, despite protests by the government and committee members.
Mr Al Hijji said that the provision in question was unconstitutional and should be scrapped.
"According to the country's constitution, an accused person is innocent until proven guilty," he said.
He said that the provision imposed a penalty on the employee during the investigation process and before a verdict was reached.
"This a rule of the powerful over the oppressed. In this case it is the government is the powerful and the employee is the oppressed," said member Jamal Fakhro.
"We are talking about an investigation period and not a conviction. The employee must be given his full salary while still being investigated."
He said that the employee should not be accused of a violation and judged by the authorities concerned before the investigation was over.
The government argued that council members must consider that they were wasting public funds.
"How can you pay someone a salary for work that he has not carried out," Minister of State for Shura Council and Parliament Affairs Abdulaziz Al Fadhel asked members. "The government actually decided to give the employee at least half of the salary, for humanitarian reasons."