The Supreme Court has given the government one more day to obey its directives, including the reinstatement of a top bureaucrat, a written response by the prime minister and bringing back the chief investigator of the Hajj corruption scam.
Earlier, on July 27, the five-member bench hearing the Hajj scam had given the government till Thursday to bring back the recently removed establishment secretary Sohail Ahmed and furnish the prime minister’s response to why he was removed to begin with. The court had charged the government with removing Ahmed for obeying the court’s directives.
The FIA was also ordered to ensure that the lead investigator into the Hajj scam, Hussain Asghar, took back charge of the probe immediately without any hurdles.
However, the attorney-general could not present a written report over his communication with the prime minister regarding the July 27 order.
The attorney-general also informed the bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry that the whereabouts of the newly-reappointed lead investigator, Hussain Asghar, were unknown. He said Asghar’s phone was switched off, and claimed no one knew where he was.
“There were reports that Hussain Asghar, who was performing duties as the inspector-general of Gilgit Baltistan, moved from Gilgit to Skardu but he is missing since (then),” the attorney-general said.
He said that he had informed the premier about all legal and constitutional provisions. Requesting the court to adjourn the hearing till Monday (August 1), the attorney-general said that the prime minister had told him that he would hold another meeting with him (the attorney-general) to formulate his response.
To this, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry responded that the attorney-general should tell authorities that the court was well aware of its jurisdiction, adding that the Constitution permitted declaring illegal appointments null and void. “All employees approach the court after suspension or removal,” he said.
On Asghar’s alleged disappearance, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain expressed amusement saying it was odd that such a senior officer could have gone missing without anyone noticing anything. The chief justice in his remarks also said that the court does not doubt the government’s intention regarding restoring Asghar as lead investigator in the Hajj scam, but this “game of hide and seek is not good”.
“Officials should uphold the Constitution and the court will support them,” he said.
He told the attorney-general to ensure that the directives were complied with by today (Friday).
The court also directed that in case Director General FIA Tehseen Anwar Shah was facing any hurdle in implementing the court’s order, he should immediately inform the court.
G-B disturbed by Asghar’s reinstatement
The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government has been disturbed by the reinstatement of Hussain Asghar as the head of Hajj scam investigating team.
Asghar was the G-B Inspector General Police (IGP) when he was reinstated as the head of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) team which probed the Hajj scam.
He was assigned to the position of IGP during the probe in which former minister for religious affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi was also allegedly involved.
However, the G-B Chief Minister Mehdi Shah and G-B Council members have voiced their concerns over the Supreme Court (SC)’s decision, terming it against the interests of G-B.
“I haven’t been consulted over the transfer of Asghar,” said Shah on Wednesday, adding that he would talk to the Prime Minister Secretariat on the issue. The transfer of Hussain, who earned a good reputation while conducting free and fair recruitment in the police, also perturbed G-B Council, which termed the SC decision as against the interest of G-B.
“His presence in G-B was really important for law and order situation,” said Amjad Hussain, a G-B Council member. “The political setup of G-B is still in its infancy and requires well-reputed individuals in key positions,”remarked Amjad.
Meanwhile, officials said that the G-B Council members adopted a resolution to block the transfer of G-B Chief Secretary Saifullah Chattha.
“The council members have presented the resolution to the G-B Governor Pir Karam Ali Shah, requesting him to withdraw the decision,” he remarked.
“The chief secretary is a sincere official who is dedicated to peoples’ welfare. However, if officials of good credibility are transferred to other areas before completing their terms, the present setup, under which the government came into power, will be adversely affected,” he explained. Additional input from SHABBIR MIR
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2011.