KARACHI: In a rare move on Wednesday, the Sindh Assembly’s standing committee on rules and procedures recommended a punishment for the project director and vice-chairperson of the board of governors of Shahdadpur Institute of Medical Science (SIMS) as it 'pronounced' a one-week imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs5,000 for breaching the privilege of a ruling party MPA.
Shahid Abdul Salam Thahim had moved the privilege motion in October, 2014 in the assembly against Abdul Majeed Chutto, who was working as SIMS project director. In his motion, Thahim had alleged that the official had misbehaved with him during a meeting by using abusive and deragatory language.
Thahim had requested Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani to refer his privilege motion to the privilege committee and start a probe into the matter. Durrani, with the consent of the assembly, moved the motion to the committee on rules and procedures headed by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro and nominated Syed Sardar Ahmed of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Samar Ali Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Khursheed Juenjo, Ghulam Mujtaba Isran, Pir Mujeebul Haq and Lal Chund Ukrani of the PPP, among others as members of the committee. Of a total 11 members of the privilege committee, a majority belonged to the ruling PPP.
The committee gave the decision against the project officer, who has now retired. Official sources told The Express Tribune that the actual dispute between the project director and MPA ensued regarding appointments in the medical institute. The PPP MPA had reportedly handed over a list to the SIMS management to appoint his own people but Chutto had objected.
The final report was presented on Wednesday in the assembly by Dr Sikandar Mandhro, which opposition MPAs, including Syed Sardar Ahmed of MQM and Nand Kumar of Pakistan Muslim League - Functional (PML-F), objected to but the PPP MPAs turned down their plea. "I fail to understand the privilege of a VVIP," said Ahmed. Kumar was of the view that the government official was being victimised because he had not obeyed the orders of a PPP MPA to appoint political workers. "Everyone wants to appoint honest officers who don't toe the line of politicians. Please don't punish an official who proved to be honest and did not succumb to political pressure," he pled.
Dr Mandhro said the project director had misbehaved with an MPA. Dr Mandhro said, "During the meeting we summoned the project director where he repeated the abusive language [he used] against the MPA in the presence of other members. He admitted that the utilisation of funds was a bone of contention between Chutto and Thahim.
Jam Madad Ali, a senior lawmaker belonging to the PML-F, told the media that this was the first time that the Sindh Assembly's standing committee had sentenced any official to imprisonment. "This is my fourth consecutive term in the assembly but I have never ever heard of such a decision," he claimed.
"After the report was presented in the house, the assembly secretariat itself will now follow-up on the case," said Sindh Assembly secretary GM Umer Farooq. He added that speaker can ask the provincial IG to register the case against the government official and send him to jail for a week. When asked about the voting on this matter, he said, "The assembly has already approved this privilege motion."
At the start of the session, PPP MPA Zia Lanjar and PML-Nawaz MPA Ismail Rahu took oath, as administered by Durrani. Lanjar won the by-election from PS 23, Naushehro Feroz, while Rahu defeated PPP MPA Muhammad Nawaz Chandio in Badin district.
PTI MPA stages walkout
PTI MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman staged a token walkout as the speaker did not allow him to speak on a short question he had moved about the excise and taxation department. "A contract of millions of rupees has been given to a company [Sapphire Consulting Services pvt ltd] violating the Sindh Public Procurement Rules," he said, as the minister for excise and taxation protested, saying they had followed the rules.
Zaman continued his speech, causing Durrani to order Zaman's mic to be switched off, which irked the PTI MPA. "This is a matter of Rs62 million," he said. "Please sit down otherwise I will have no other option but to send you outside," said the speaker but Zaman continued his speech. "Please do whatever you want but I will continue raising this issue," he said, before staging a token walkout.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2016.
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