PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has exonerated a senior official of the forestry and wildlife department earlier charge-sheeted for availing himself of the National Accountability Bureau’s voluntary return scheme to pay Rs3.8 million for accumulating assets beyond known sources of his income.
The documents available with Dawn show that the environment, forestry and wildlife department issued a notification declaring that the competent authority after having considered the charges, evidence on the record, findings of the inquiry committee, the explanation of the accused and exercising his powers under Rule 14(3) of the KP Government Servant (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 2011, had been pleased to exonerate Safdar Ali Shah, BPS-19 conservator wildlife, from the charges levelled against him.
The officer was proceeded against under the E&D rules on April 4, 2018, while an inquiry committee consisting of the then population welfare secretary, Syed Zafar Ali Shah, and Environmental Protection Agency director general Dr Mohammad Bashir was constituted to conduct a fresh inquiry against the accused.
Notification says no evidence of illegal assets found against wildlife conservator
“The inquiry committee, after having examined the charges, evidence on record and explanation of the accused officer, submitted in its report, wherein charges against the officers have not been established,” the notification read.
The NAB informed the accused’s parent department on Dec 16, 2015, when he was being promoted to the chief conservator (wildlife) on the acting charge basis that during an inquiry into his illegal assets, he made a voluntary return deal of Rs3.8 million under Section 25 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 2009.
The issue cropped up again in Dec 2016 when the Supreme Court directed the federal and provincial governments to conclude departmental proceedings against the officials, who availed themselves of the NAB voluntary return scheme, and report compliance.
However, the court’s judgement read that no final order of removal from service shall be passed against any such officials if the amount paid by him is less than Rs2.5 million.
An official told Dawn that the officer was first charge-sheeted by the then chief minister, Pervez Khattak, on ground of the voluntary return deal, and inquiry conducted by transport secretary Kamran Rehman Khan and managing director of the Forest Development Corporation recommended the dismissal of Mr Shah from service. However, the fate of this inquiry is not known.
The official said a second charge sheet was issued to the said officer and the then chief secretary ordered an enquiry, which was conducted by a committee headed by the then secretary population welfare, Zafar Ali Shah, which submitted its report wherein it was observed that the respondent-officer had committed ‘corruption’ and ‘misconduct’.
He said in light of the second inquiry show-cause notice was served on the officer, but surprisingly the chief minister Mahmood Khan awarded him minor penalty of withholding two increments to him for two years.
Mr Shah was appointed the chief conservator in 2017 on own pay scale basis, which he is still occupying despite being junior to many.
The documents show that pre-Provincial Selection Board on July 30, 2018, declared the official ineligible for regular promotion in BS-20 for making the voluntary return deal with the NAB.
However, the PSB in its meeting on Dec 26, 2018, deferred his promotion due to the deal and promoted another officer, Dr Mohsin Farooq, to BPS-20. He was given the charge of the chief conservator office for a single day before he was transferred to the Pakistan Forest Institute unlawfully.
Mohammad Ali, another official, also met the same fate as he was sent to the PFI.
Environment minister Ishtiaq Urmur was not available for comments on the matter.
Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2019