SHC gives 45 days to amend enquiries, anti-corruption rules


Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Qaim Ali Shah seems to be a very busy person nowadays, so much so that he has not yet signed the summary aimed at making amendments in the present enquiries and anti-corruption rules to take on the corrupt officials. Meanwhile, the Sindh High Court has given a 45-days time to the officials concerned to do the same.
It should be recalled here that the Sindh Enquiries and Anti-Corruption Department had forwarded a summary to the Sindh CM in July 2011 meant to make major amendment in the existing rules.
However, the summary remained on the chief executive’s table for more than a year, reflecting the commitment of the present government to eradicate the menace of corruption from government departments, Pakistan Today has learnt. The Sindh Enquiries and Anti-Corruption Department lacked powers to initiate any inquiry and register cases against government employees.
Interestingly, the lengthy process of the anti-corruption department often took years to reach completion and to initiate any legal action against the alleged corrupt government officials, sources told Pakistan Today.
Usually, the Sindh Enquiries and Anti-Corruption Department would receive written complaints against government officials for a few months, after which the meetings of Anti-Corruption Committee (ACC-I and II) were called in with the Sindh chief secretary in the chair.
In the ACC-I, the chief secretary gave approval to the anti-corruption team to lodge cases against government employees ranging from grade 1 to 16. However, the ACC-II permitted cases against the officials of grade 16 and above, officials at anti-corruption department requesting anonymity told Pakistan Today.
Due to the lengthy procedure of inquiry, the department had proposed amendments in Sindh Enquiries and Anti-Corruption Rules for speedy disposal of corruption cases of inquiry/registration of cases, prosecution and arrest of accused persons, the sources added.
Presently, the rules which had been notified in 1993, did not allow the officers of anti-corruption department to initiate and open an inquiry against the government servants and officers accused with charges of corruption, they said.
The department had proposed changes in the existing rules aimed at empowering the anti-corruption officers to initiate an inquiry, register cases and arrest the accused, they said, adding that a summary had also been forwarded to the chief minister for approval.
The new proposed rules suggested that the anti-corruption officers should be given powers to initiate inquiries, make arrests and prosecute the cases against the corruption accused.
In order to simplify the procedure, the changes in existing rules have been proposed for speedy disposal of corruption cases on the pattern of rules set in the Punjab province where officers of anti-corruption department were empowered to initiate inquiry against offenders, to register cases/prosecute and arrest the accused, they informed.
Furthermore, the Sindh High Court, on a CP No D-1538/2012, had recently given time of 45 days to the CM to sign the summary. Besides, the Sindh Prosecutor General Shahadat Awan had been instructed to pursue the matter with the quarters concerned and to get approval from the CM on the said summary.
“It appears that throughout the province of Sindh, 539 complaints are under inquiry and 1998 complaints are pending for decision of ACE. It has been asserted that the decision of the ACE could not take place for the reasons that a summary has been moved before the CM seeking amendments of Sindh Enquiries and Anti-Corruption Rules 1993 for formation of the committees. Once the summary is approved by the CM, a decision would be taken accordingly,” according to a decision of the SHC, a copy of which is available with the Pakistan Today.
The decision further stated that, “In the circumstances, we expect that Advocate General, Prosecutor General and the department concerned would pursue the matter with the quarters concerned and to get approval from worthy CM on the said summary. It is expected that the exercise would be completed within 45 days”.
An official at the enquiries and anti-corruption department, wishing not to be named, told Pakistan Today that several applications were pending and there was urgent need to introduce new laws with major changes so that those involved in corruption could be dealt with strictly. “The summary has been pending with the chief minister since July 2011 and it is expected that it would be signed after the SHC directives,” he added.