Wednesday April 24, 2024

RTI Commission summons HED official as inquiry issue drags on

By Akhtar Amin
November 21, 2016

PESHAWAR: The Right to Information Commission Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has summoned a senior official in the Higher Education Department on November 22 for not complying with the orders to provide relevant record to a complainant under the RTI Act.

Muhammad Hayat, Deputy Secretary Higher Education Department (HED), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been summoned for non-compliance.The action was taken in a complaint filed by the HED officer Kala Khan Awan. He had requested for a copy of inquiry report conducted against him and other officers duly signed page-wise as per the requirements of legal necessity. He said the inquiry report in circulation had not been signed properly.

He had also requested under the RTI Act for a copy of questionnaire served upon the accused officials.Kala Khan had retired from service in March 2016 without getting promoted as his promotion was dropped thrice due to the so-called pending inquiry. He then filed a complaint with the RTI Commission against the HED deputy secretary for not providing him the relevant information regarding the inquiry.

The commission summoned the HED deputy secretary to appear along with all relevant record requested by the complainant about the inquiry.Earlier, in another complaint the RTI Commission had issued show-cause to the HED deputy secretary for not providing the relevant record of the inquiry.

It was stated in the show-cause notice that the HED deputy secretary had received a request from Ghulam Ali and Dr Ghulam Qasim Marwat for provision of information on attendance sheet of the four accused officers about the inquiry, including the applicants, and 151 accused officials of the HED under the RTI Act 2013.

It was stated that the deputy secretary had neither provided information nor certificate of non-availability to the complainants.Kala Khan Awan has retired from service and the future of two more officers including Ghulam Ali, Dr Ghulam Qasim Marwat of the HED and 151 employees of the government colleges is hanging in the balance due to  what they claimed was faulty inquiry by the authorities.

On the orders of PHC, the services of 151 employees were terminated after an inquiry over preparation of fake high court stay order by the HED officials and then appointment of the 151 employees on the basis of political affiliation.

The PHC judgment was later challenged at the Supreme Court, which set aside the decision on February 3, 2014. However, the department was allowed to conduct a fresh inquiry, if needed, but the exercise had to be completed within six months.

However, even after two years of the Supreme Court decision, the department has neither completed the inquiry under the rules and conducted through irrelevant officers nor given a final decision on the findings of the inquiry. The officers concerned are being deprived of their right to promotion.

An official of the HED told The News that the inquiry committee instead of preparing fresh charge-sheet against the accused used the earlier one prepared on the judgment of the PHC against the officers, including Director Higher Education Teachers Training Academy (HETTA) Ghulam Qasim Marwat, ex-additional director of HED Kala Khan Awan, ex-deputy director Ghulam Ali and deputy directress Zobia Qamar.

During the inquiry, the HED through letters in 2014 clarified to the Establishment Department that innocence of its accused officers was proved in the court and it was established that there had been no malpractices in the process. It argued that the charge-sheets issued on the basis of ACE charges had lost validity.

However, the Law Department opined that the case could be filed. It was learnt that the inquiry was not conducted by the committee approved by the chief minister. Consequently, show-cause notices were served on the HED officers on June 19, 2015 but Clause-V of the “specimen show-cause notice” was deleted and the accused were denied copy of the inquiry report.

The accused officers claimed they had submitted 100 percent rebuttal of charges against them but the file was put in cold storage. They submitted joint representation to the chief secretary regarding their undue victimization, but it is still under process in the Establishment Department.

The notification of the Deputy Secretary Colleges revealed that Kala Khan Awan was chairman of selection committee while Habibur Rehman, deputy secretary colleges, and Zobia Qamar, deputy directress, were its members. But instead of charge-sheeting the responsible officer Habibur Rehman, the HED charge-sheeted an irrelevant officer Ghulam Ali, who is a former deputy director colleges despite the fact that the court had already acquitted him of the charges.

Despite proving his innocence in the courts, his case was thrice deferred for promotion to grade-19 due to the pending inquiry. Once again, action was recommended against 151 employees and officers, but the authorities kept the inquiry pending as it wasn’t properly conducted and was in violation of Supreme Court order.