Federal secretary in trouble over notification of transfer of IGP Gilgit-Baltistan

By Nasir Iqbal

The Supreme Court had on May 27 ordered the establishment division to bring back Hussain Asghar to his previous post.—File photo

ISLAMABAD (DN): A seemingly reluctant top government official submitted to the Supreme Court on Tuesday a hurriedly prepared notification transferring Hussain Asghar back to the Federal Investigation Agency to resume investigation into the unprecedented mismanagement in last year’s Haj operations.

Mr Asghar was investigating the Haj scam as FIA director before he was promoted by the government and sent to Gilgit-Baltistan as Inspector General of Police in an apparent move to slow the pace of Haj scam probe because it involves a number of influential people.

The court had on May 27 ordered the establishment division to bring back Mr Asghar to his previous post. The then FIA chief had informed the court that a summary to the effect had already been moved and it had been with the competent authority since then.

The court had issued a similar order on Monday.

On Tuesday, Establishment Secretary Sohail Ahmed informed a five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, that he could not comply with the order because it was beyond his authority.

The court said it would deal with the matter itself because the chief executive of the country was hampering progress in the case.

“The court orders are being violated by state departments which show government’s non-seriousness to handle the corruption case.”

The court also drew attention of the establishment secretary to Article 190 of the Constitution which bound him as a senior government secretary to follow orders of the Supreme Court.

The court told Sohail Ahmed that it had two options –either to take action against him or save the sanctity of the institution by giving him more time till 11.30am. The court warned the secretary that if he failed to comply with the orders and issue the notification within the given time he would have to face the contempt of court charge, the proceedings of which could be concluded during the course of the day.

After the court break was over, the secretary, along with Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq, submitted the notification under his signatures.

Mr Ahmed also read out the notification which stated: “In compliance of the Supreme Court July 25 order in suo motu case regarding corruption in Haj arrangements 2010 and the directive issued by the Supreme Court during hearing of the case on Tuesday, Hussain Asghar, a BS-20 officer of Police Service of Pakistan, presently posted as Inspector General of Gilgit-Baltistan Police, under Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Division, is transferred and posted as Director, Federal Investigation Agency, under the Ministry of Interior, with immediate effect and until further orders.”

When asked whether Mr Asghar would relinquish the charge forthwith or would have to wait for his substitute, the secretary said the words “immediate effect” meant that as soon as the notification was delivered to him he would relinquish the charge.

The court observed: “Time and again we have pointed out that the Haj scam was unique in its nature as evident form the facts and circumstances. Not only corruption at a large-scale was committed, but at the same time it brought a bad name to the country and the nation.

“Not only this, the government itself had to compensate pilgrims to the sum of Rs460 million from whom the amount was unauthorisedly looted by the functionaries posted at that time. The government is not interested in recovering the amount and culminating the case to its logical conclusion.”

The court again ordered FIA Director General Tehseen Anwar Shah, who invited the court’s ire on Monday by skipping its proceedings, to appear in person on Wednesday and ensure that the investigation team already working with Hussain Asghar was reattached with the officer.

The FIA DG is also required to facilitate the investigating team.

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