SHC seeks record of all govt officers facing NAB cases

Published September 28, 2021
A logo of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is seen on the main entrance of their office in Karachi, Pakistan. — Reuters/File
A logo of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is seen on the main entrance of their office in Karachi, Pakistan. — Reuters/File

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Monday directed the provincial authorities and National Accountability Bureau to submit reports regarding all the government officers, BPS-17 and above, who reached a plea bargain with authorities, opted for voluntary return and facing trial in NAB cases.

The SHC expressed dissatisfaction over an earlier report filed by the secretary of the services, general administration and coordination department (SGA&CD) and observed that details about officers of grade-17 and above were not reflecting in the report.

The bench comprising Justice Salahuddin Panhwar and Justice Adnan-ul-Karim Memon also asked the secretary to file a report regarding officers who reached plea bargain, VR and those who had been arraigned by NAB but references or their appeals were pending in courts.

The court asked him to file the report after proper verification and complete responsibility along with his personal affidavit.

Details of officials who either entered plea bargain or opted for voluntary return of looted money are also sought

It also directed the director general of NAB-Sindh to submit list of such cases against the officers till Sept 30 after a NAB prosecutor sought time to place on record the report in the light of the order passed today.

While hearing two identical petitions, the bench said that SHC had earlier issued a number of orders on the subject matter and questioned the compliance report filed by the SGA&CD secretary in December last year as he did not cover senior officers.

In December, the SHC had directed the Sindh chief secretary to immediately put under suspension all the officials serving in different departments of the provincial government after reaching a plea bargain or opting for VR and initiate disciplinary proceedings against them.

The court had also called an explanation from the chief secretary for promoting and allowing such officials to continue with their postings in violation of the law laid down by the apex court and also asked the NAB chairman and special prosecutor to submit a complete list of all civil servants of the Sindh government who reached plea bargain or opted for VR after the counsel for the petitioners raised doubts about the list filed by the provincial authorities.

It had observed that the Sindh government was duty-bond under the law to initiate disciplinary proceedings against all such officials, but merely imposing minor penalties as eyewash did not serve the purpose of the law.

Initially, two petitions were filed last year against the posting of some officers who returned embezzled money to NAB through plea bargain and VR. Later, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan lawmaker Kanwar Naveed Jameel had also petitioned the SHC stating that the reappointment and promotion of around 500 officials who had entered into a plea bargain and opted for VR with NAB had been made in several provincial departments in violation of the apex court’s judgement reported in 2016.

Action against SBCA officials ordered

The SHC on Monday came down hard on the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) over illegal and unauthorised construction in the city and directed its director general to take action against the officials.

The division bench headed by Justice Irfan Saadat Khan deplored that the SBCA was not taking any action against such constructions until the matter came in the courts.

It directed the SBCA chief to proceed against the officials who were allowing and failed to control illegal and unauthorised constructions in their respective areas/jurisdictions.

The bench said that the unauthorised constructions can be stopped if strict legal action was taken against the officers including suspension and termination from services.

The bench issued these directives during the hearing of a petition filed against unauthorised constructions in Federal B. Area.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2021

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