KARACHI: The Supreme Court (SC) expects the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to efficiently and expeditiously pursue an inquiry into corruption of Sindh police officers, including IG Ghulam Haider Jamali.
The larger bench, headed by Justice Amir Hani Muslim, also asked the bureau to complete inquiries or investigation, fairly, justly and strictly in accordance with the law, and submit a report within a month.
The directives came in an order on Friday after the five-day long hearings on separate applications regarding corruption in recruitments in Sindh Reserve Police (SRP) and unfair distribution of funds meant for the police investigation wing.
During the hearing, a compliance report was submitted based on recommendations of an inquiry committee against officers with controversial service records. The conclusion of the committee is on a case-to-case basis. Another committee, appointed by the court, filed a report revealing that the allocations of funds to cover investigation costs lacked transparency, rationality and justification.
A third report, prepared by another committee formed by the court to probe into illegal appointments in the police, revealed that in the first phase, appointments of 437 police personnel were found to be illegal.
Refuting these allegations, IG Jamali stated in court that committee members were themselves involved in illegal appointments and corruption in 2013-14, and had attempted to implicate him to save themselves.
Meanwhile, the NAB chairperson confirmed before the bench that proceedings had been initiated under the National Accountability Ordinance, including with regard to the allegations surfaced in reports prepared by the three-member committee formed on court orders. The court was informed that three separate inquiries were initiated, out of which two were still pending, while the third had matured into an investigation. Therefore, the court ordered that copies of inquiry reports about illegal recruitments and investigation funds be sent to the NAB. The three-judge bench observed that the reports, prima facie, provide sufficient justification for initiating departmental proceedings against the officer(s) identified therein.
Conflict of interest
The court also ordered the secretary establishment division and Sindh chief secretary, as the case may be, to ensure that the competent authority – the Chief Minister – fulfills its obligations in this behalf strictly in accordance with the law.
“The competent authority obviously will also consider the desirability of such officers, including the IG Sindh, holding their offices during the pendency of such departmental proceedings at the risk of prejudice thereto in the context of the powers vested in such authority under the law,” the bench directed, adding that a progress report in this regard should be filed with the court after four weeks. The chief secretary was ordered to take over the record relating to allegations to which access will only be permitted to NAB and the authority conducting departmental proceedings.
During the proceedings, senior police officers who are members of inquiry committees or remained associated with the investigation into illegal recruitments and funds’ unfair distribution, sought the court’s protection from IG Jamali, who is ‘attempting to influence the inquiry committee and victimise them for bringing true facts to the court’s knowledge’.
Judges observed that the IG’s actions appear to be tainted with malice and designed to punish police officers who complied with court orders. Consequently, the bench stayed further action against the officers, either members of the committee constituted for the inquiry or associated with it in anyway, till further order.
Furthermore, the apex court ordered that members of the two committees will not be posted out of Sindh either by the federal or provincial government without prior approval of the court.
It also ordered the chief secretary to exercise reporting and countersigning authority in respect of annual confidential reports (ACRs) of these officers, till further orders by the court.
It ordered its office to send copies of the order to the attorney general, the NAB chairperson, secretary establishment division, provincial advocate-general, chief secretary, home secretary and members of the inquiry committee. The hearing was then adjourned.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2016.