Sindh ombudsman’s appointment challenged in Sindh High Court

Petitioner requests court to declare appointments by ombudsman during last 10 years illegal


Z Ali February 22, 2019
Sindh High Court. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) has put the provincial ombudsman of Sindh (POS), besides other respondents, on notice in a petition challenging the ombudsman's appointment and the exercise of his powers. The SHC directed on Wednesday the respondents including the POS, Sindh governor, chief secretary and secretaries of finance and law departments to submit their replies by March 6.

The petitioner, Mumtaz Ali Gopang, who is a resident of Karachi, prayed to the court to declare the appointment of POS Asad Ashraf Malik as well as the appointments made by Malik during the last 10 years illegal. Former governor Ishratul Ebad Khan appointed Malik as POS on January 7, 2008, while he was still in the police service from which he retired on March 29, 2008, according to Gopang.

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His first tenure as the POS came to an end in 2012 and the second in 2016. Both the re-appointments were made by Khan. The petitioner argued that Malik's initial appointment, as well as his subsequent re-appointments, was illegal, citing Section 5(2) of the Establishment of the Office of Ombudsman for the Province of Sindh Act, 1991.

"On expiry of his [first and second] tenures, the governor illegally and unlawfully extended the term of Malik and re-appointed him as POS". The section provides that an ombudsman should not hold the office of profit in the service of Pakistan before the expiry of two years after he ceases to hold the office of ombudsman.

Legislation

Gopang also pleaded the court to order Sindh law secretary to make necessary amendments in the act pertaining to the appointment of the POS, "... a person, being a judge of this honourable court or qualified to be the judge of this honourable court [should be the qualification]".

He pointed out that Sindh's act, unlike the acts of Punjab and Balochistan, was silent regarding the criteria, eligibility or requirements of a person to be appointed as the POS. "There shall be an ombudsman for the province of Sindh who shall be appointed by the governor," reads section 3 of the act.

"An Ombudsman shall be a person who is, or has been a judge of the high court, or has been district and sessions judge qualified to be a judge of the high court or any lawyer who is qualified to be a judge of the high court," reads Balochistan's act.

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Appointments

The petitioner described 228 employees in the ombudsman office as 'ghost employees'. He claimed that the POS had appointed retired and over-age persons as the regional directors in all the 16 regions of Sindh. Under the law, the post of regional director is sanctioned as a BPS-19 post, he contended.

He listed names of 12 retired persons in the petition, the eldest among which is 90 years old, two are more than 80 years old and seven are 70 to 78 years old. "The ombudsman fills the said posts without observing formalities and advertisement". 

Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2019.

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