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View from the courtroom: SC verdict in ‘voluntary return’ cases

View from the courtroom: SC verdict in ‘voluntary return’ cases affecting many officials

ISLAMABAD, NOV 14, (DNA):  Following a recent judgment of the Supreme Court, the federal and provincial

governments have started taking departmental action against those government servants who had availed of the

“voluntary return” option available in National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, and returned their illegal monetary gains.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, different departments have issued show-cause notices to the concerned officials under the

Efficiency and Disciplinary Rules, 2011. The show-cause notices are mostly issued to officials in the revenue,

communication and works, and public health engineering departments. Several of the officials had moved the

Peshawar High Court challenging the mode of issuance of show-cause notices to them under the E&D Rules.

However, a bench headed by Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel turned down pleas of

around 35 officials.

These petitioners had claimed that under the Rules, the competent authority had to first initiate an inquiry, but in

instant cases the authority had dispensed with the inquiry and instead directly issued show-cause notices. They also

claimed that in rest of the country proper procedure had been followed while proceeding against officials in such

cases.If these officials fail to get any relief from the apex court, there is likelihood of their removal from service.

A three-member SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, pronounced its order on Oct 24 and

directed the secretary Establishment Division and all the chief secretaries of the provinces to ensure initiation of

departmental proceedings forthwith against the employees who had voluntarily returned the amount in terms of

Section 25 (a) of National Accountability Ordinance (NAO).

Ever since the NAO was promulgated during the military government of retired General Pervez Musharraf the

provisions related to “plea-bargain” and “voluntary return” have been drawing criticism as its critics believe that

these provisions have encouraged corruption and corrupt practices.

Under the provision of plea-bargain, an accused person stands disqualified from holding any public office for 10

years after he returns “ill-gotten” money. However, in case of “voluntary return” no such disqualification is available

and a person continues to serve against his post even after returning back the amount which he or she has allegedly

misappropriated.Ever since the NAO was promulgated during the military government of retired General Pervez Musharraf the provisions related to “plea-bargain” and “voluntary return”

have been drawing criticism as its critics believe that these provisions have encouraged corruption and corrupt practices.=DNA

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