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March 12, 2019

Centre clips provincial ACEs powers without PM’s approval

Top Story

March 12, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan does not know about the recent office memorandum (OM) issued by the Federal Law Ministry clipping the powers of the provincial anti-corruption entities from proceeding against federal officers posted in the provinces in cases of corruption and misuse of authority, it was learnt.

Informed sources said that neither was the prime minister consulted nor was he informed while issuing the OM which was primarily aimed at frustrating the Punjab’s Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) recent drive against corruption, which has upset some influential DMG officers besides others.

These sources said that the Prime Minister’s Office got to know about this development through The News story “Centre clips provincial ACEs powers” dated March 9, and is expected to get the OM withdrawn. Questions like how the OM was issued, who had maneuvered it, requires a probe but there is no indication as yet if Prime Minister Imran Khan will get the issued probed.

On Feb 7, 2019, the Law Ministry issued the OM whose operative part reads as: “The undersigned is directed to refer to the Establishment Division’s OM No1/1/2017-D.1, dated 31-12-2018 on the subject noted above and to state that the employees of the Federal Government are lent to the Provincial Government. It is a 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 work 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 Department do not have jurisdiction on the Federal Civil Servants regardless of their posting under the Provincial Governments.”

On the basis of the Law Ministry’s OM, the Punjab Services and General Administration Department (S&GAD) on March 7, issued instructions to all 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 severely dented the anti-corruption drive of the Punjab ACE, which was activated recently on the personal intervention of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had appointed, a few months back, reputed PSP officer Hussain Asghar as Punjab ACE chief under whose command the provincial anti-corruption body launched massive campaign against corruption in the provinces. 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 Memorandum 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 world 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.”

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 has stopped the anti-corruption drive launched in Punjab on the orders of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

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