Karachi: Sindh High Court (SHC) here Thursday directed petitioner Pasban Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman Altaf Shakoor to challenge the Establishment of the Office of Ombudsman (EOOB) for the Province of Sindh (Amendment) Bill, 2020 when it becomes Act, as it is now a Bill and under discussion in Assembly.
Pasban Democratic Party (PPP) Chairman Altaf Shakoor, through a constitutional petition (572/2020) making Sindh Chief Secretary, Speaker Sindh Assembly, Chief Minister and Governor Sindh respondents, has challenged the Bill and maintained that for the development and welfare of the country, it was necessary to check and eradicate corruption and criminality from all public offices.
He said that due to the massive corruption in the function of usual discharging of duty by the government officers, the appointment in the offices of Government and State was carried out without merits and without seeing the ability of the candidates and the appointments are being done on their own sweet will and wishes without even conducting the personal verification and the antecedents upon heavy bribes. He said due to these illegal activities and induction of unwanted peoples in the public offices, they harm the whole structure of Pakistan through corruption and bribery. The heavy expenditures of government offices the country has burdened the country heavy debts and the nation pays a high price in shape of price hike and the lives of the people have become miserable and poor people are committing suicides.
The petitioner maintained that the respondent Chief Minister has jeopardized, and taken over the powers of Respondent Sindh governor for the appointment of the Provincial Ombudsman under the umbrella of Provincial Assembly by malafidely misusing the majority of political seats and representation in the Assembly and snatched and looted the powers of Respondent Governor for appointment of the impartial person in the Provincial Ombudsman office for check and balance and eradication of corruption and smooth function of the government office in line of duty and to redress the grievance of the general public who aggrieved by the act of the Government officers and government offices.
He further maintained that malafidely, illegally, unconstitutionally, the Bill in this regard presented and sent to the Governor for amendment in the establishment of the Ombudsman Act, Sindh 1991, in which the salient features of the amendments are:
a) Control of Ombudsman Institution has been transferred from Governor Sindh to Chief Minister Sindh including appointment of Ombudsman by Chief Minister.
b) Doing away with the provision of extension/ reappointment of Ombudsman (even if the performance is extraordinary). This provision was included in 2012 whereby on the recommendation of Chief Minister, the Governor could extend the term or reappoint the incumbent Ombudsman. Interestingly, this provision was included in 2012 by an assembly dominated by PPP and done away by the same party after 7 years.
c) Qualification for appointment as Ombudsman has been brought down to officers retired in BS-20.
The petitioner said that Advisors, Consultants and Secretary of the Ombudsman Secretariat have and are serving in BPS 21/22 or at the least senior BS-20. 11. That the present amendment dated 8th January 2020 is contrary to the whole legal and conceptual basis of an independent institution keeping the maladministration of the executive in check. If the executive appoints the head of an institution set up to provide administrative justice by keeping maladministration in check how can such an appointee be in a position not to acknowledge the favour. Indeed, the institution was working effectively under Governor, totally independent of the executive.
It will now be rendered totally ineffective as the Ombudsman will be subservient to C.M. Sindh who is himself facing NAB Cases/enquiries for corruption and maladministration, maintained the petitioner, adding thus for all practical purposes the original intent of the Establishment of the Ombudsman Act, Sindh 1991 has been undone.
The petitioner said through newspaper it has come to this knowledge that Mr. Fazlullah Pechuho is going to be appointed who has excessively bad reputation of massive corruption and was retired in BS-20 due to a very poor record and facing NAB cases. His conduct was enquired into by various intelligence agencies and NAB and presently he is on bail in various NAB cases. He was removed on orders of Supreme Court of Pakistan as Secretary Education on wide ranging complaints of bogus appointments on realization of heavy bribe. He was also removed from post of Secretary Health on Court orders on charges of procuring spurious medicines for Government hospitals jeopardizing health and safety of patients.
The petitioner said that the controversial Bills were passed in the Assembly on Wednesday, the 08th January, 2020, when the quorum in the House was incomplete, and only 24 MPAs were present in the House.
The petitioner, prayed to declare the impugned Bill, i.e. Establishment of the Office of Ombudsman for the Province of Sindh (Amendment) Bill, 9 2020, as unconstitutional, illegal, void ab initio and of no legal effect. He also prayed to direct the eespondents not to pass the impugned Bill into an Act; restrain the Respondents, their servants, agents, subordinates and anybody else claiming through or under them not to process the impugned Bill and also restrain them from proceeding further on the impugned bill; and suspend the operation of the impugned Bills, pending the final decision of this Hon’ble Court.
However, the SHC on Thursday heard the petition and directed the petitioner to challenge it when the Bill becomes as Act, as presently it is a Bill and under discussion of assembly.
PDP chairman Altaf Shakoor had filed this constitutional petition through their lawyer Irfan Aziz Advocate.