KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed the provincial chief secretary on Thursday to submit a report clearly explaining what action had been taken against 477 officers who were reinstated in various departments after entering into plea bargains in corruption cases with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
SHC Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Shaikh, who headed a two-judge bench, also directed the secretary of the services department to furnish details of all the deputy commissioners, sub-divisional magistrates and mukhtiarkars restored on their posts after plea bargains and voluntary returns to NAB.
The judges also instructed the service secretary to submit his personal affidavit to the effect that no more officers involved in graft cases were taken back in any government department in the province.
These directives came on a petition filed by Ghulam Mustafa Lund, who had approached the court against alleged harassment by NAB authorities despite having voluntarily returned the amount misappropriated by him in a financial scam.
During Thursday’s proceedings, the services secretary submitted a report regarding action taken against those officers who were reinstated on their posts after entering plea bargains and voluntarily returning money to NAB in graft-related cases.
The report stated that action was taken against 477 officers who were restored on their posts in 13 departments.
In the department, the secretary said action against 39 corrupt officers had been completed. He added that 28 employees were punished with forced retirement with all the benefits.
However, it stated that no action was taken against 172 officers restored on their posts after entering plea bargains and the voluntary return scheme.
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The report stated that departmental proceedings were closed after awarding minor penalties to those officers who had voluntarily returned millions of rupees. It stated that 11 officers were warned of strict action in the future if they indulged in corrupt practices. The report stated that 29 corrupt officers had already retired from service while eight officers who had entered into plea bargains and VR schemes had passed away. It maintained that proceedings against 216 officers were still under way.
CJ Shaikh rejected the services secretary’s report on action against the corrupt officers, observing that the Sindh government was trying to play with the court.
Expressing dismay over the state of affairs, the top judge further remarked that the Sindh government should be awarded for such performance.
The bench members directed the chief secretary to appear before the court on March 6 along with complete details of action initiated against the officers, the nature of offence and penalties.
They warned of initiating contempt of court proceedings against the chief secretary if a single officer who had entered into plea bargains and VR schemes with NAB was found working in any department.
Furthermore, the judges directed the services secretary to submit details of deputy commissioners, SDMs and mukhtiarkars restored on their posts after entering into plea bargains and VR schemes. The services secretary was further told to submit a personal affidavit to the effect that no such officers were working in any department in the province.
During the course of the proceedings, the NAB prosecutor had claimed that more than 500 officers were found involved in corrupt practices in inquiries and subsequently opted to voluntarily return the embezzled money by entering into plea bargains with NAB.
The prosecutor said NAB had recovered a total of Rs16.6 billion from these officers under the voluntary return scheme.
Sindh government’s statistics
On the other hand, the provincial advocate-general, Barrister Zamir Ghumro informed the court that there were 1,309 officers against whom inquiries had been initiated but had been restored to their posts in the province after entering into plea bargains.
The court was further informed that 27 such officers were dismissed from their jobs while inquiries against around 100 others were still under way. The law officer sought more time to file report about the fate of such inquiries.