ISLAMABAD: The federal government is considering Javaid Jehangir for the post of auditor-general, but he faces resistance from within the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP), with senior officials fearing that his appointment may tarnish the image of the constitutional post.
Jehangir retired from the Audit and Accounts Service group in December last year and till his retirement, a disciplinary case remained pending against him, according to sources. He also served as member finance in the Capital Development Authority (CDA) where his role over plot auctions became controversial.
Even though the Ministry of Finance did not officially comment on the matter, Jehangir told The Express Tribune that a summary had been moved for his appointment.
The auditor-general is appointed by President on a summary moved by the finance ministry through the office of Prime Minister.
The post fell vacant in April this year when Rana Assad Amin retired after attaining the age of 65 years – the maximum age limit set for the post. Since then, an acting auditor-general is running the affairs of the department.
Currently, Imran Iqbal, the senior-most officer of the Audit and Accounts Service within the department, is serving at the top post.
Railways Secretary Parveen Agha and Controller-General of Accounts Shagufta Khanam are the other senior-most officers of the audit group, but both women are not currently serving in the organisation.
In the past, their names remained under consideration for appointment as permanent auditor-general.
The AGP department is responsible for ensuring public accountability and fiscal transparency. Parliament exercises its control over the federal government through the AGP.
The new auditor-general will supervise the audit of accounts of the federal government which, as per practice, is carried out by field offices.
However, before his retirement, Jehangir faced serious issues because of his role in financial deals in the CDA, said the sources. He served with the then chairman CDA, Farkhund Iqbal, as member finance. Iqbal subsequently landed in jail over charges of corrupt practices.
The sources said the Cabinet Division had framed a draft charge-sheet against Jehangir, which was sent to the AGP department through the Establishment Division for formally framing charges and appointing an inquiry officer.
The AGP office shoved the draft charge-sheet under the carpet, according to the sources. A joint secretary Establishment Division sent many reminders to follow up on the case, but no action was taken, they said.
Till Jehangir’s retirement, he was neither formally charge-sheeted nor had the government formally dropped the case. However, according to the Government Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 1973, on retirement of an officer, all pending inquiries stand abated.
Since, it is a constitutional post, the Chief Justice of Pakistan takes oath of office from the auditor-general before entering the office. Former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry had refused to swear in at the hands of Akhtar Buland Rana until he got certain clarifications from the then government on allegations levelled against Rana.
Rana has recently been convicted of hiding his dual nationality.
Till my retirement, I was neither charge-sheeted nor served with any show-cause notice, said Jehanghir while explaining his position. He, however, admitted that the government did not formally close the matter, but it was not his fault.
Jehanghir said he was accused of corrupt practices in a case in which no physical transaction ever took place. He said the pre-qualification committee of the CDA had recommended calling off the auction after pre-qualified bidders offered lower than the cost of available plots for auction.
Jehanghir said the CDA had charge-sheeted the director estate and the director environment in the same case but the then cabinet secretary exonerated both the officers as no financial loss was caused to the exchequer.
Jehanghir claimed that these allegations were revived again because of professional rivalry.