KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) was informed on Thursday that 4,270 officers serving in different provincial government departments were facing inquiries and departmental action had been initiated against 435 of them who had entered into plea bargain and opted for voluntary return (VR) of misappropriated/embezzled money with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
This was disclosed by the Sindh chief secretary in compliance reports submitted through Advocate General Sindh Salman Talibuddin during hearing of two identical petitions seeking action against government officers holding posts despite entering into plea bargain and voluntary return of the misappropriated money to NAB.
In the first report, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah submitted, in compliance with the SHC’s Dec 21, 2020 order, four lists to the court disclosing the names, designations and postings of the government/civil servants, who had entered into plea bargain and/or voluntary return under NAB laws, and/or facing disciplinary or criminal proceedings.
The chief secretary submitted that NAB and Enquiries and Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Sindh were also requested to furnish details of the officers/officials facing references/cases.
Bench orders another report in the matter be filed within 30 days
He submitted that ACE had furnished such information, disclosing that 3,835 employees of the Sindh government were facing anti-corruption FIRs.
The top provincial bureaucrat said that the information from NAB was still awaited.
However, the chief secretary said that all administrative departments had been directed to finalise disciplinary proceedings pending against the officers/officials within 30 days.
The report further stated that the departments had been further directed that in case the disciplinary proceedings had not been initiated, the same should be initiated forthwith and completed within 45 days.
They have been further directed that after completion of such exercise such certificate should be furnished that no case of disciplinary proceedings is pending against such officers/officials, the report added.
The bench, headed by Justice Muhammad Shafi Siddiqui, took the report on record.
AG Talibuddin informed judges that all those officers/officials, who had voluntarily returned the benefits, the proceedings had been initiated against them and would be taken to logical conclusion.
The bench directed the law officer that since a number of employees were subject to inquiry let a second report be filed within 30 days and thereafter appropriate order for its extension will be passed.
During hearing of another petition, the AG Sindh also filed a compliance report on behalf of the chief secretary along with a list of the officers/officials against whom disciplinary proceedings were under process for having entered into plea bargain and voluntary return.
The report mentioned that out of 238 officers/officials, 217 belonged to the School Education and Literacy Department and majority of them were primary and high school teachers. Therefore, placement of services of such a large number of school teachers may create problems for the school education department as the same may cause adverse effect on the process of teaching in schools concerned.
Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2021