Tuesday 23 July 2019
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The News - 12 days ago

Officer promoted giving clean chit in corruption charges

ISLAMABAD: An influential officer has been granted promotion after the charges of corruption against him were converted into inefficiency and major penalty was reduced to the minor one eventually paving way for his progress in career. Asghar Khan, the officer under question, is younger brother of a high official affiliated with top office of the country where most important decisions are taken. He was not considered for the Central Selection Board in the last four years due to the ongoing inquiry against him and it was expedited to conclusion only recently enabling him for the promotion. An officer of Pakistan Customs Service, Asghar has now been promoted to BS-20, according to a notification of the Establishment Division.In 2015, he came under scrutiny while working as Additional Director Customs Intelligence in Peshawar after a complaint was lodged with FBR chairman by two individuals whose foreign currency was seized by an inspector working under Asghar in an unauthorised raid.According to the complainants, 1.7 million Saudi riyals (approx. Rs6.8 million) were confiscated from them and only five lac riyals were returned. The matter was initially taken up in a Jirga, which was secretly filmed. In the Jirga, Asghar and his inspector reportedly agreed to return another 2 lac riyals, which they did whereas the actual amount remained contested as complainants claimed it was 1.7 million riyals and the accused officer termed it exaggerated.After basic inquiry conducted by Muhammad Saleem, then Director Customs Intelligence, the matter was referred for disciplinary proceeding after detailed investigation. Dr Arsalan Subactgeen, then Collector of Customs Islamabad, was appointed the inquiry officer who found Asghar guilty of corruption, inefficiency and maladministration. This inquiry established his active involvement in the confiscation of foreign currency.Keeping Asghar s influential background in mind, the FBR decided to conduct inquiry afresh. A couple of officers (first Sarwat Habib and then Qurban Ali) were assigned the matter but they refused indulging into this high-profile matter. Gul Rehman, who was then member appellant tribunal, took the assignment and fully exonerated Asghar Khan, shifting the entire blame on the inspector, co-accused in the matter, Khalid Marwat.The inspector had alleged that he had no direct role in recovering the foreign currency. He said he had escorted the intercepted vehicle into the office and this was Asghar who had recovered the amount, an allegation second inquiry officer didn t accept.As the inquiry was submitted to Tasneem Rehman, then FBR Member (Administration), she didn t approve the exoneration of Asghar, and suggested third inquiry. The matter remained pending until Tasneem was transferred from the FBR after her promotion. She was replaced by Irshad Muhammad Khan.Irshad, after going through the matter, exonerated Asghar on monetary charges, however, indicted him on inefficiency ground. He suggested major penalty for him. According to Efficiency and Disciplinary (E D) rules, there are three types of major penalties: Removal from service, compulsory retirement and reduction to a lower post and scale.In the case of removal from service, the officer found guilty is deprived of all kinds of benefits, pension etc unlike the compulsory retirement where one is entitled to claim that. In reduction to a lower post and time scale, the guilty officer is demoted and is posted at insignificant positions. Irshad recommended the third option: reduction to a lower post and time scale.The then FBR chairman was the final authority to accept or reject such recommendations submitted by Irshad. He converted major penalty into the minor. In the minor category, there are four kinds of punishment: censure, withholding of increment, stoppage of promotion and the recovery from the salary. The FBR head awarded him a penalty of recovery (of the missing foreign currency) from the salary instead of stopping his promotion.While talking to The News, the former FBR chairman said since there was no loss to the state exchequer nevertheless minor penalty was imposed which, he explained, nevertheless means he was found guilty of negligence. He said he didn t support third inquiry as suggested by Tasneem Rehman as the issue would remain inconclusive. He also denied any close link with the officer affiliated with the top office.The News also contacted Irshad Muhammad Khan who though verified the facts attributed to him, he chose not to speak further saying he is not authorised to delve into details. Asghar Khan was also contacted but he didn t return the call despite the fact that text messages were sent to him about the issue under question. Secretary Establishment Ijaz Munir didn t take the call either.

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