The apparent impasse between the judiciary and the government has cost another bureaucrat his job.
After stern warnings from the Supreme Court, Secretary Establishment Sohail Ahmed issued on Tuesday a notification of reinstatement of Hussain Asghar as Director Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and lead investigator of the Hajj corruption case.
However, soon after issuing the notification, Ahmed was removed from his post by the government.
Ahmed had taken over as secretary establishment earlier this month after Abdul Rauf Chaudhry was relieved of his duties. However, he lasted only 20 days, and was made Officer on Special Duty – the bureaucrat’s equivalent of being thrown into punitive limbo - by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
When a five-member larger bench, headed by the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, resumed the hearing of the Hajj corruption case, the secretary establishment submitted in writing that it was beyond his jurisdiction to issue the notification of reinstatement of Ashgar since he is a grade 21 officer.
The chief justice, however, remarked that the court had already issued the directives; therefore, under Article 190 of the Constitution, he is bound to obey the order. He warned Ahmed that, if he failed to produce the notification before the court by the end of tea break, he would be sent to jail.
After the tea break, the secretary establishment as well as Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq presented the notification of reposting Asgher to the post of Director FIA.
The court also noted the absence of Director General (DG) FIA. The chief justice ordered DG FIA Tehsin Anwar Shah to appear before court in person on Wednesday (today) and assure the court that Ashgar has resumed the investigation of the Hajj scam.
The chief justice further observed that Rs460 million have been reimbursed to the effected pilgrims from the national exchequer but the looted amount in the scam is yet to be recovered.
Hussain Asghar reinstated
Following the issuance of the reinstatement notice, the chief justice ordered DG FIA on Tuesday to reinstate Asghar and his team.
Asghar had served as investigation officer in the Hajj corruption case, successfully indicting the then Minister for Religious Affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi for charges of money-laundering and corrupt practices in Hajj arrangements last year. However, he was transferred to Gilgit-Baltistan as Inspector General of the police in the middle of the investigation.
Although the Establishment Division did not name Asghar’s replacement, sources in Gilgit said that it was likely that Deputy Inspector General Police Amjad Hussain would be appointed IGP Gilgit-Baltistan. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHABBIR MIR IN GILGIT and HAIDER NASEEM in ISLAMABAD
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2011.