Monday June 27, 2022

Sindh govt told not to allow officers facing NAB cases to undertake financial undertakings

May 19, 2022

The Sindh High Court on Wednesday directed the Sindh government to ensure that a civil servant who was facing the National Accountability Bureau’s proceedings or a reference before accountability courts “shall not be allowed to carry out financial undertakings in any manner of whatsoever nature”.

The direction came on a petition of Abdul Shakoor Khan against the appointment of the director information advertisement in the information department on the grounds that he was facing a corruption inquiry along with other officers.

The counsel for the director advertisement questioned the maintainability of the petition on the premise that no documentary proof had been placed on record to substantiate the allegations levelled against his client by the petitioner.

He submitted that no investigation or inquiry was pending against the respondent director before the NAB authorities or the provincial anti-corruption department, and that the instant petition was filed to harm the reputation and mental peace of the respondent.

The provincial law officer submitted that the respondent was not facing NAB’s corruption reference and the petitioner had wrongly mentioned “Sindh Government Digital Advertisement Policy, 2021”, which does not exist and there are no complaints of corruption and corrupt practices against the respondent on the basis which action can be taken against him at departmental level.

He submitted that only a call-up notice from NAB has been served upon the private respondents, which cannot be construed as a NAB reference to non-suit him from the present postings. He prayed for dismissal of the instant petition.

A division bench comprising Justice Naimatullah Phuploto and Justice Adnanul Karim Memon observed that the record reflects that the NAB authority was inquiring about allegations concerning awareness campaigns carried out by the Sindh information department in electronic media (TV/radio) during the period from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2018.

The court observed that the respondent being an officer of the admin and accounts information department had been transferred and posted in the information department (Advertisement) on June 15, 2021, and that NAB had already taken cognizance of the offence committed by officers/officials of information department and others under the provisions of NAO, 1999 and it is for them to decide under the law if the cognizable offense is committed by delinquent officials.

The court observed that in present case the petitioner has not placed any material or highlighted in what way the private respondent indulged in massive corruption and corrupt practices, and if public interest litigations at the instance of strangers are allowed to be entertained by the court the very object of speedy disposal of service matters would get defeated.

The court observed that except for a writ of quo warranto, public interest litigation is not maintainable in service matters.

The court however disposed of the petition with a direction for the Sindh government to ensure that a civil/public servant who is facing NAB proceedings/references based on moral turpitude before the accountability courts is not allowed to carry out financial undertakings in any manner of whatsoever nature.