ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday described the government's consistent obduracy in retaining the services of Waseem Ahmad as FIA's Director General because of national security reasons as an excuse to flout its orders and a violation of the constitutional right of equality.“Nobody likes the independent decisions of this court but the culture is changing and come what may we are here to perform our role,” Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry said.
He is heading a five-judge special bench looking into re-employment of civil servants on contract and mismanagement of the Haj operations last year.
The court described as 'joke of the year' a document presented by Interior Secretary Qamar Zaman Chaudhry who had been called to furnish a summary about the national security job being done by the DG.
Members of the bench read the contents of the privileged material submitted by the secretary and then returned it, saying it would be in the interest of the government that the document remained classified because if it was made public it would become a big joke.
“This is a classified joke and we are being taken for a ride,” Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said, adding that the judges would not allow anyone to hoodwink the court.
Establishment Secretary Abdul Rauf Chaudhry denied media reports that his department had received a resignation letter from the FIA chief. He said the department had not submitted any summary to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to approve the foreign visits the DG intended to undertake to attend two international conferences on security issues.
Senior counsel Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, who talked to the prime minister during the proceedings to seek fresh instructions and convey the court's apprehensions over the government's alleged foot dragging over the matter, said it had become necessary to submit a proper reply on behalf of the government.
He said the scope of re-employment on contract had been enlarged by the court by applying Article 9 (security of person) of the Constitution that dealt with a fundamental right.
The court said in its order that the government was required initially to look into the cases of officers of forces like police and the Federal Investigation Agency who had been re-employed on contract after superannuation, including the FIA director general.
But despite repeated observations, little progress had been made except the termination of the contracts of the Sindh police chief and some other police officials, it said.
“The DG, FIA, is still continuing on the same post although, without prejudice to his case on merits, this court has made observations against him from time to time regarding poor investigation of the case in the Haj scam,” the order said.
“While other members of the police have been removed, his retention, prima facie, seems to be discriminatory against the provisions of Article 25 of the Constitution because if all of them were serving on contract basis and according to the stand of the government, they were performing duties to the satisfaction, their services have been terminated but DG FIA, who is also a similarly placed person is continuing in office.”
Citing instructions conveyed to him by the establishment secretary, one of the members of a committee set up to examine such cases, Mr Pirzada said the officer's services were required in connection with some national security matters. The counsel sought time to enable him to file a reply and make submission because 47 other employees, whose list had been filed, were working on contract in 22 ministries, whereas no information had been received so far from the remaining 24 ministries.
The court put off the proceedings till March 16 and asked Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq to appear on the day, saying the question of interpretation of constitutional provisions was involved in the case.
The advocates general of all provinces submitted details of the officials re-employed on contract after superannuation. HAJ SCAM: FIA's Additional Director General Jawed Bukhari submitted a report stating that significant progress had been made in investigation and more incriminating material was being collected about people involved in the Haj scandal.
The court asked him to conduct the investigation independently, strive to bring the culprits to the book, whosoever they might be, and accelerate the probe by collecting evidence as early as possible.