PESHAWAR: The provincial cabinet on Thursday approved drastic changes in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Act (KPECA) 2014 through an ordinance for making the approval of the five-member Ehtesab Commission mandatory for the arrest of a suspect and reducing the maximum physical custody period of a suspect to 15 days from the existing 45 days.
Special assistant to KP chief minister on information Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani told reporters after the meeting that the cabinet gave approval to the KPEC (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016, which also provided that no senator, MNA or MPA would be arrested by the commission without prior intimation to the Senate’s chairman or the National Assembly or provincial assembly speakers, as the case might be.
The ordinance proposed that in case of the arrest of a civil servant, prior intimation would be given to the chief secretary.
Under the proposed ordinance, the government will enhance powers of the Ehtesab Commission consisting of five commissioners and place check on certain powers of the commission’s director general, especially on the arrests of suspects and filing of references with the Ehtesab courts.
Proposed ordinance links arrests to KPEC’s consent; cuts maximum physical custody of suspects to 15 days
The ordinance envisages the setting up of the KPEC directorate general to be headed by the DG and consisting of prosecutor general and directors of various wings and other employees.
The proposed ordnance provides for increase in the functions of the commission and includes ‘grant approval to DG or an officer of directorate general for arrest of an accused.’
Another important amendment to the KPEC law is that all persons appointed to the directorate general before the commencement of this ordinance will be examined by a scrutiny committee to be constituted in the prescribed manner by the government.
It will also be binding on the commission to return official documents taken by it in custody from a department within 15 days.
Under the proposed ordinance, an inquiry will be completed in 90 days followed by investigation which will be completed in 30 days. Inquiry will be converted into investigation with the approval of the commission and an accused will only be arrested during investigation and not inquiry.
It further said no inquiry would be started on anonymous complaint and that fine imposed on a complainant on frivolous complaint would not be less than Rs500,000 and not more than Rs2 million.
“On the completion of the inquiry or investigation as the case may be, there will be a prosecution conference within seven days under the chairmanship of the chief ehtesab commissioner and to be attended by two commissioners the DG, prosecutor general to determine the charges to be framed and the matter to be referred to the court by way of reference. Decision in that regard shall be made by majority of the votes.”
Mr. Ghani said the cabinet also decided to repeal amendments made to the KP Forest Ordinance 2002 in 2014 and thus, allowing the local government department and Galiyat Development Authority to construct 26 rest places for tourists including 19 inside reserved forests.
He said under Section 26 of the Forest Ordinance, no land of the reserved forests could be transferred or leased out for any purpose.
The special assistant to the chief minister said the cabinet also rejected a proposal to raise route permit issuance and renewal fees and ordered the setting of the fee at 10 percent less than that of Punjab.
Mr. Ghani said the cabinet decided that the retired government employees would get their retirement benefits over a period of 20 years, getting 25 percent every five year.
He said the approval was granted to the KP Youth Policy to grant financial, social and political freedom to the youths and set up a Youth Development Commission in the province.
The special assistant said the cabinet also approved the KP Hydro Power Policy 2016 to promote cheap power production and encourage private sector.
He said the cabinet also decided that the KP Anti-Corruption Establishment won’t keep any department’s record in connection with an investigation and return the record after making photocopies of it.
Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2016