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March 9, 2019

Centre clips provincial ACEs powers

Top Story

March 9, 2019

ISLAMABAD: In a major development, the Imran Khan government has barred the provincial anti-corruption entities, particularly the proactive Anti-Corruption Establishment Punjab (ACEP) from proceeding against federal officers posted in the provinces, including those belonging to Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS, also known as DMG) and Police Service of Pakistan (PSP) in cases of corruption and misuse of authority.

On March 7, the Punjab Services and General Administration Department (S&GAD) while following the federal government’s instructions instructed all provincial administrative secretaries, commissioners, senior member board of revenue, chairman planning and development and all heads of attached departments that the provincial anti-corruption department has no jurisdiction on the federal civil servants regardless of their posting under the provincial governments.

Although, the federal government’s “Office Memorandum” issued on Feb 7, 2019 on the subject is applicable on all the provincial governments, in the case of Punjab this order will severely dent the anti-corruption drive of the ACEP.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had appointed, a few months back, reputed PSP officer Hussain Asghar as ACE Punjab chief under whose command the provincial anti-corruption body launched massive campaign against corruption in the province. However, this drive upset many influential and powerful including politicians from ruling PTI and members of the bureaucracy.

It is believed that the powers of the provincial anti-corruption departments have been clipped following pressure from the powerful quarters in the Punjab. On March 7, the S&GAD issued official letter on the subject “INSTRUCTIONS REGARDING DISCIPLINARY AND OTHER PROCEEDINGS AGAINST THE EMPLOYEES OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT”.

The official communication reads as: “I am directed to refer to the Office Memorandums No 589/2018- Law-I dated 07.02.2019 of the Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of Pakistan on the above-cited subject.

2. I am further directed to reproduce below the instructions issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice in respect of the Federal Government Employees, working under the administrative control of the provincial governments: ‘The employees of the federal government are lent to the provincial governments. It is settled principle that any disciplinary or other proceedings, against such employees, can be taken by the federal government only. All the cases of federal civil servants are dealt with by the Special Judge Central and investigation is done by FIA as per law. The word appropriate government, used in the relevant law, has been effectively interpreted by the Supreme Court in the decision cited at 1993 SCMR 61 wherein it was held that even sanction for prosecution for such employees has to be taken by the federal government. Therefore, provincial Anti-Corruption Departments do not have jurisdiction on the federal civil servants regardless of their posting under the provincial governments.’

3. I am also directed to bring it to the notice of all concerned for necessary compliance.” Sources in the federal government insist that this OM has been issued to save federal government employees from unnecessary harassment at the hands of the provincial anti-corruption establishments. These sources said that already the bureaucracy is harassed and hounded by the NAB owing to which the civil servants are hesitant to take decisions.

A source belonging to Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment lamented that instead of addressing the wrongs on part of the NAB, the federal government has clipped the provincial anti-corruption departments powers to check corruption and misuse of authority in the case of federal employees who hold most of the senior positions in the provincial setup.

The source said that in the case of Punjab, the vast majority of the corruption cases in the province belong to the federal employees. The source said that the fresh order will frustrate the anti-corruption drive launched in Punjab on the orders of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

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