Govt to produce 17 years of appointment records

SHC wants to know whether or not the appointments were made on merit


Naeem Sahoutara February 16, 2018
PHOTO:FILE

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) sought on Thursday records from the provincial government relating to appointments made in government departments and agencies during the last 17 years.

Headed by SHC Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Sheikh, a two-judge bench directed the provincial law officer to also explain whether or not all the appointments were made on merit.

These directives came during hearing of a petition filed by Afshan Mansoor seeking direction for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to investigate alleged financial irregularities in the projects to construct new buildings of the Sindh Assembly and hostel for the MPAs in Karachi.

The petitioner had named Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, the provincial law secretary, NAB chairperson and its provincial director-general, the provincial anti-corruption authority’s head and others as respondents.

The petitioner had claimed that massive corruption had taken place in the project. It was argued that the cost of the project was estimated at Rs2.7 billion in the initial PC-I.

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The judges were told that the project’s costs had now been revised to Rs11.4 billion. Such a huge amount of money has already been released, despite the fact that even 50% of the work on the project had not been completed, Mansoor added.

The petitioner informed the court that the Sindh Assembly’s speaker, Durrani, who himself was supervising the project, had got his blue-eyed officer appointed as the project director. Such irregularities are being committed in connivance with officials in the provincial finance department and accountant-general’s office, the petitioner claimed.

The petitioner disclosed that officers in the provincial anti-corruption department, who were investigating the alleged corruption, had also been transferred to disrupt the inquiry.

The judges were further informed that apart from corruption, illegal appointments and promotions were also being made in the Sindh Assembly secretariat in violation of the principles of merit. The petitioner lamented that there was no check on such practices.

The court was pleaded to pass a direction to the NAB chairperson and provincial director-general to investigate such illegal appointments, promotions and corrupt practices. The court was also requested to restrain the finance department and accountant-general from releasing any more funds for the project.

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During Thursday’s proceedings, Justice Sheikh observed that appointments had also been made in the Sindh Building Control Authority, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, district municipal corporations and Karachi Water and Sewerage Board.

Therefore, the top judge directed the provincial government to submit the entire record relating to the appointments in all government departments and agencies between 2000 and 2017.

It also directed the additional advocate-general to appear to submit such records, to show whether the appointments were made purely on the basis of merit or otherwise.

“We will also see if the petitioner has come to the court with clean hands,” the bench observed, summoning the petitioner's lawyer on March 15.

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