Scam investigation: SC renews push to get Hajj probe chief reinstated

Govt refuses to relinquish services of Hussain Asghar due to G-B security situation.


Qaiser Zulfiqar August 24, 2011

ISLAMABAD:



The Supreme Court has warned the government of strict action if Hussain Asghar, the former lead investigator of the Hajj corruption case, was not restored to his previous position in the Federal Investigation Agency.


The government, however, refused to relinquish the services of Asghar as Inspector General Police Gilgit-Baltistan and send him back to the agency to resume the investigation of the case.

Asghar has been caught in the middle of the standoff between the apex court and the government after he was removed as investigation officer of the million rupee scam. On July 27, the Supreme Court had directed Asghar to probe the Hajj scam that caused a loss of Rs460 million to the national exchequer following rampant corruption in Hajj arrangements last year.

However, Asghar was given the slot of IGP G-B without informing the Supreme Court. The apex court, in return, expressed its displeasure and directed the authorities concerned to bring the officer back to the position of FIA director to finalise the investigation.

During the proceedings on Tuesday, the interior secretary, in compliance with the court’s earlier order, presented a report before a three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, hearing a suo moto case against corruption in Hajj arrangements.

The report stated that Asghar could not be transferred due to the security situation in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry asked Babar Awan, who appeared on behalf of the interior secretary, why the court’ orders were not implemented in letter and spirit in connection with Asghar.

“Cancel his transfer order and we will see who does not allow Hussain Asghar to come back,” the CJP remarked

The chief justice said that if Asghar was not transferred back to the FIA, action would be taken against those responsible. “His notification has been issued and we will ask the establishment secretary to cancel his transfer order,” he told Awan.

Awan told the court that the G-B chief minister was not relieving Asghar due to the security situation in the province. In response, the chief justice said that the security situation was similar in Karachi, Balochistan and other areas of the country.

Awan submitted before the court that there is a mechanism to bring back an official, which they are working on. The counsel further submitted that the court should realise the autonomy of the province. The court, however, observed that the judicial jurisdiction was established with the order of the apex court.

Meanwhile, Awan sought some time to inform the court on the matter regarding Asghar.  The court accepted his request and adjourned the hearing for two weeks.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th,  2011.




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