ISLAMABAD, June 5: The Supreme Court ordered Khushnood Akhtar Lashari, the Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, on Tuesday to recall the notification appointing Hussain Asghar as Inspector General of Gilgit-Baltistan if he failed to rejoin the Haj scam investigation in three days.
The court issued the order after getting frustrated over the pace of investigation into the scam by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
In the past, the court had on several occasions had asked for return of FIA’s former director Hussain Asghar to his parent department (to start reinvestigation into the Haj scandal), but every time it was told that he was still looking after matters relating to law and order in Gilgit-Baltistan.
A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S. Khwaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain had taken up a case relating to allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the 2010 Haj arrangement. The bench expressed its displeasure and said its directives were being ridiculed by not recalling Mr Asghar.
The court ordered Mr Asghar to rejoin the FIA by June 8 to commence the investigation and said officers deployed in the provinces were obliged to accept federal government’s directions.
Mr Lashari, who also holds the charge of establishment division, informed the court that his department had proposed a panel of three officers to GB Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah for appointment as IG, but he was not willing to relieve Mr Asghar on the grounds that law and order and sectarian strife had deteriorated in the region.
“But the law and order situation is also bad in other parts of the country,” the chief justice observed. The situation was similar in Balochistan, southern Punjab and Karachi, he added. The court observed that FIA employees were bound to obey the orders issued by the federal government or else disciplinary action should be taken against them.
The chief justice ordered Mr Lashari to suspend the notification and ask the AGPR to stop his salary if Mr Asghar failed to return to the FIA.
Attorney General Irfan Qadir submitted a report and said that despite issuance of a notification on July 26 last year in response to the court’s June 25, 2011 order, Mr Asghar had not turned up to rejoin the FIA. However, he said Mr Asghar should not be suspended unheard.
But the court reminded the attorney general that as per rules the opportunity to explain oneself was given only once. “The GB chief minister has no right to stop Mr Asghar from reporting back to the FIA headquarters,” the chief justice said, adding that being a civil servant Mr Asghar was under the command of the prime minister.