As prosecutor general’s tenure expires, Ehtesab Commission loses right to appeal

The News

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission (KPEC) has lost the right of appeal against the accused in different cases and also the decisions of Ehtesab Courts after the expiry of the term of its prosecutor general.
An official of the KPEC on Sunday confirmed to The News that Prosecutor General KPEC Syed Yahya Zahid Gilani’s four years term expired on Sunday (October 21) and the commission would is now without the prosecutor general.
The official said the right of appeal against the decisions of Ehtesab Court and other matters in high courts and Supreme Court was exclusively with the prosecutor general and presently no mechanism existed with the government to fill the post.
Interestingly, there is no process in the field for the appointment of the prosecutor general as the provincial government through an amendment in the act had given the power to the administrative committee of the Peshawar High Court to appoint director general and prosecutor general of the commission.
However, the vacuum for the appointment of director general and prosecutor general was created when the Peshawar High Court’s division bench turned down the amendments regarding empowering judiciary for the appointment of executive officers and declared the amendments in the act as void.
An official of the KPEC told The News that the provincial government should again amend the act for the appointment of the director general and prosecutor general after the high court declared the amendments as void.
He said the provincial government remained silent on the issue and did not make the amendment.
He said there is no mechanism to do so as the Search and Scrutiny Committee, which was first empowered under the act for the appointment of prosecutor general, had been amended and those amendments had also been declared void by the high court.
As per the KPEC Act, besides other powers, the prosecutor general is empowered to give advice to the commissioners and director general upon such legal matters and perform such other duties of legal character as may be referred or assigned to him by the director general and in the performance of his duties, he shall have the right of audience in all Anti-Corruption Courts and all other courts including the high courts and Supreme Court.
When contacted, special prosecutor KP Ehtesab Commission Lajbar Khan said that the prosecutors would perform their duties as per the law and their period of extension rests with director general KPEC. “Due to absence of the prosecutor general, the commission would face various legal issues related to filing of appeals against the decisions of Ehetsab Courts in high court and Supreme Court,” he added.
Prior to this new development, an uncertain situation had emerged after the decision of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government to abolish the much-publicised KPEC.
The previous PTI government had established the KPEC with lot of fanfare as it was seen an innovative move by the party head Imran Khan to tackle corruption at the provincial level.
The new PTI government elected after the July 25 general election said the anti-graft body is being disbanded for failing to curb corruption as “it didn’t perform well”. However, the KPEC claimed to have achieved success despite amendments that took away its powers and made it weak.
After the recent cabinet meeting, the provincial government spokesman Shaukat Yousafzai said at a press briefing that the KPEC was abolished as it had failed to deliver.
He said the Law Department would decide about the cases pending with the KPEC.
However, he denied that the money of the taxpayers was wasted on the establishment of the KPEC.
An insider in the commission said that major hurdles in KPEC’s functioning included having an acting director general, all other officials working on contract basis, and frequent amendments to the act and staff shortage.
He said that due to these hurdles and other loopholes, the KPEC has yet to work properly. He argued this was the reason that all the government officials and lawmakers, including former minister Ziaullah Afridi, arrested by KPEC and charged with corruption have been freed.
In the last few weeks, the KPEC filed three references against certain government officials for their alleged involvement in corruption and corrupt practices.
Some officials, on condition of anonymity, said that if the government winds up the KPEC, then the NAB should move against the persons responsible for setting it up and wasting Rs700 to Rs800 million of the public exchequer.

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