SHC orders removal of officers convicted by accountability courts
Sindh High Court on Friday ordered the provincial government not to give postings to officers who have been convicted by the accountability courts or are on bail in references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
The order was passed by a division bench headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar on some identical petitions. The bench directed the Sindh chief secretary to ensure implementation of the order in “letter and spirit” otherwise contempt of court proceedings would be launched.
The bench also ordered the removal of all those officers of the provincial government who have either been convicted by accountability courts or are on bail in NAB references.
When the bench assembled in the morning, the focal person appointed by the Sindh government presented a report about the posting of two officers.
The lax attitude of the focal person infuriated the bench, and Justice Panhwar fell short of ordering criminal proceedings against him and demanded the whole truth.
The provincial law officer at this juncture intervened and submitted the report regarding those departments that were directly subordinate to the provincial government. He added that a report about 17 other departments was yet to be filed.
The bench put aside the file and directed the focal person to submit the complete report after the court break at 11:00am. It also made clear that for the time being it was not seeking reports about the officers who availed plea bargain and voluntary return.
After the court break, the focal person apprised the bench that 14 officers convicted by accountability courts were holding posts in the Revenue Department. He added that now they have been removed per the court orders.
The focal person further apprised the court that three officers, each, had been removed from local government and forest departments. While seven such officers have been removed from the irrigation department, he added.
The focal person submitted that a cane commissioner, a section officer and a director of the workers welfare board were also removed from their posts.
The same bench on September 28 had directed the provincial authorities and NAB to submit reports regarding all the government officers who had availed a plea bargain with authorities, opted for voluntary return and was facing trial.
While hearing two identical petitions, the bench said that SHC had earlier issued several orders on the subject 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 who had reached a plea bargain or opted for voluntary return. It also ordered the Sindh government to initiate disciplinary proceedings against them.
Initially, two petitions were filed last year against the posting of some officers who returned embezzled money to NAB through plea bargain and voluntary return.
Later, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan lawmaker Kanwar Naveed Jameel had also petitioned the SHC stating that the re-appointment and promotion of around 500 officials who had entered into a plea bargain and opted for voluntary return with NAB had been appointed in several provincial departments in violation of the apex court’s judgment.
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