KARACHI: A day after the Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered the removal of officers who entered into plea bargain with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from their posts, the services, general administration and coordination department directed all government departments to submit details of such officers so action could be taken.
Inquiries will be initiated against the officers who were found guilty of involvement in corruption but returned the money they embezzled under NAB’s voluntary return scheme. On Thursday, the court gave the provincial government three days to remove around 500 officers until the departmental inquiries against them are finalised. Official sources told The Express Tribune that the number of such officers in the education department dominates the statistics, as around 200 employees of the department had returned the misappropriated funds to NAB by entering into plea bargain.
Meanwhile, a number of local government, irrigation, works and services departments officials are also included in the list. “The local government department has so far sent a list of 22 employees, the irrigation department a list of 19 and the works and services department has dispatched us the details of six of its employees,” an official said, adding that engineers, assistant engineers and executive engineers working in the works and services and irrigation departments have returned millions of rupees while the names of clerks, accounts officers and teachers of primary, secondary and higher secondary schools are on the list of officers who have returned money to NAB as well.
Court orders removal of 500 ‘cleared’ officials
Advocate-General Barrister Zamir Ghumro said that a restraining order had earlier been granted by the Supreme Court regarding the removal from services of those officials who have availed the voluntary return scheme and the amount paid by them was less than Rs2.5 million. He said that another retaining order was also given by the apex court on initiating departmental proceedings such officers.
Quoting the apex court’s decision, he said, “No final order of removal from services shall be passed against any of the officials who have entered into voluntary return if the amount paid by him is less than Rs2.5 million.”
Ghumro referred to recent SHC decision and said, “The court has not asked us to remove these officers from service but it was of the view that those officials who have made payment should not hold respective public offices till the finalisation of departmental proceedings initiated against them.” He added that the chief secretary is also directed to ensure the conclusion of departmental proceedings under relevant service laws.