The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday ordered the removal and cancelling appointments of officers convicted or released on bail in National Accountability Bureau cases.
The court directed the chief secretary to ensure implementation of its order, saying violation of its orders would result in contempt of court proceedings.
A two-member bench headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar held a hearing on the appointment of officers, facing National Accountability Bureau (NAB) investigations.
The apex anti-corruption body presented a list of the NAB suspects and convicts serving in the government of Sindh.
According to the list, 494 officers convicted by the accountability courts voluntarily compensated for the loss to the national exchequer whereas 41 officers entered into a plea-bargain with NAB.
Moreover, NAB has filed references against 108 officers on charges of corruption and corrupt practices. As many as 71 officers were convicted but appeals against their convictions are pending before the SHC. The NAB's focal person said that 14 officials of the Sindh Board of Revenue were convicted by the accountability courts.
The bench questioned the Sindh Assistant Advocate General on what posts these officers were posted on.
The AAG told the court that 10 officials were removed from their posts which included mukhtiarkars and tapaidars.
Justice Panhwar remarked in astonishment as to what the officers convicted of corruption were doing on those positions.
According to the NAB, three local government department officers, convicted by the accountability court, were removed from their posts.
Three officers of forest department and municipalities convicted by accountability court were removed from their posts. Seven convicted officers were removed from their posts in the irrigation department.
According to the police report, no officer in the police department has been convicted by any accountability court, except a constable.
Justice Panhwar remarked that the convicted constable should not be posted anywhere.
The report said that four convicted officers in works and services department were removed from their posts, adding a cane commissioner and a section officer of the services and general administration department were convicted and removed from office.
The report said that an officer in the workers' welfare board was convicted and removed from office. The court questioned the public prosecutor about the officer's post in the workers welfare board. The public prosecutor replied that he was posted as the director of the workers' welfare board.
Justice Panhwar directed the officials to avoid giving runarounds to the court and tell the truth about what action was taken on the court orders. The focal person said four convicted officers in the education department have been removed from service.
The court remarked that it was a serious matter that the convicted officers had been posted. Justice Panhwar remarked that we are not talking about those who opted for VR.
The court expressed annoyance at the public prosecutor for not submitting comprehensive reports.
"Your officers want to hide the facts from the court," Justice Panhwar remarked. "Should we directly call the chief secretary? We called reports from each department, why are you not producing it?" the judge asked.
The court once again sought an implementation report from the Sindh government.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2021.
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