–Spokesperson says ACE never dropped any case backed with solid evidence
LAHORE: Due to the influence and pressure by political players and government officials, Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) is facing hurdles in getting hold of the corrupt, Pakistan Today has learnt.
According to sources, several inquiries were initiated against the corrupt government employees in the past but despite the file work and inquiries, no employee or official could be punished or arrested by the ACE.
Sources further informed Pakistan Today that a similar case occurred in 2009 when the Liquidation Board’s former chairman Brig (r) Farooq Maan along with eight other officials were accused of selling 196 kanals of state land in Khanewal on very low rates to their dear ones. A case was registered with ACE but no moves were made after the inquiry and despite the proofs, only some of the officials were arrested while others were neither taken for trail nor arrested. No penalties were imposed either.
Similarly, several other government employees from the Police, Irrigation, Excise and Taxation departments besides patwaris were nominated in different cases but ACE could not get hold of them, said sources. They said that owing to the slow process of ACE and delays in punishment, several complainants had given up on their cases as well.
According to the stats shared by ACE, from January 2018 till July 2018, almost 12,050 complaints were received whereas 11,330 complaints were disposed of by ACE. Almost 5,541 inquiries were initiated in the same time period, 1,172 cases were registered, 919 challans were submitted and 1,138 accused were arrested, 155 raids were conducted and Rs15.833 million was directly recovered by ACE.
ACE says the process of lodging a complaint is very easy as the complaint is a simple application in which allegations are mentioned by the aggrieved person against a public servant and justice is demanded.
Initially, the complaints are lodged before the director general, additional director general, regional directors and deputy directors of ACE and later are marked to the enquiry officer, who proposes the required action.
If after a comprehensive enquiry, the prima facie commission of an offence is established, a criminal case is registered at ACE police station on the orders of the competent authority and thereafter investigation is conducted under the law. After registration of a case, the concerned department is informed accordingly. The arrest of the accused public servant may take place if inevitable with the permission of the competent authority.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, ACE spokesperson Sadia Afzal said, “Sometimes there is an issue of lack of evidence in the cases filed with ACE. We have to initiate all the cases that come to ACE as per policy but during the inquiry, we find that either the evidence is not solid or the parties patch up with each other on the matter. In such situations, the cases are withdrawn and files are closed. We also notice that most of the cases are initiated out of personal grudges.”
The spokesperson further said that ACE never backed out from the cases in which the accused was caught red-handed or in a trapped raid and such cases were sent to court.