PESHAWAR: A lawyer has moved the Peshawar High Court against the government over failure to enforce laws on conflict of interest and whistleblower protection even four years after their passage by the provincial assembly and sought orders for the immediate issuance of the notifications required for their enforcement and establishment of the relevant commissions.

In the petition, Saleem Shah Hoti complained that the government has so far not issued the relevant notifications to enforce the two laws and form the promised commissions.

The respondents in the petition are the KP government through its chief secretary, secretaries of law and establishment departments, and provincial advocate general.

The petitioner said the provincial assembly had passed the KP Prevention of Conflict of Interest Act, 2016, which was assented to by the governor on May 12, 2016.

He said Section I of the said law provided that the law should come into force on such date as the government may by notification in the official gazette specify and different dates may be specified for different provisions of the Act.

The petitioner said the KP Whistleblowers Protection and Vigilance Commission Act, 2016, was passed by the assembly and the governor had assented to it on Sep 26, 2016.

Legislation made on matter four years ago

He said the law also declared that it would come into force on the date specified by the government through a notification in the official gazette.

The petitioner said the provincial government had so far failed to issue the required notification under both laws despite their passage more than four years ago, so those laws existed on paper only.

He claimed that those laws were enacted amid much publicity with the government terming them vital for good governance in the province but they’re not implemented.

Lawyer Saleem Shah said the conflict of interest law provided for the establishment of an independent commission with the mandate to determine the measure necessary to avoid conflict of interest, whether a contravention of the Act had occurred, and to encourage experienced and competent people to seek and accept public offices.

He added that the law was aimed at establishing the clear conflict of interest and related post-employment principles for public officeholders, prevent and minimise the possibility of conflict arising between the private interest and public duties of public officeholders, and resolve those conflicts in the public interest.

The lawyer said Section 3 of the Act envisaged the formation of a three-member KP Prevention of Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commission.

He added that the whistleblower protection law provided the establishment of the KP Whistleblower Protection and Vigilance Commission to enable the people to make public interest disclosures related to the irregular, illegal or corrupt practices, prevent them from disadvantageous measures, and reward them.

The lawyer pointed out that neither rules had been framed under the law nor had regulations for the functioning of the commission been formulated.

He insisted that the withholding of notifications to enforce those laws was meant to thwart the will of the legislature due to a required executive order, which was also against the democratic order and wishes and aspirations of the electorates.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2021

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