Establishment and Interior divisions come face-to-face

Ahmad Noorani

A journalist

ISLAMABAD: A tug of war is going on between the Prime Minister office, the establishment division and the interior division over the issue of transfer of a grade-18 officer.

Following different complaints about the support of land mafia (‘qabza groups’) by senior government officers, Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered the removal of the accused officers from their offices and directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to conduct an inquiry.

Following directions of the Prime Minister office, the establishment issued a notification No. PF ()1299/E-5(PAS) dated July 15, 2020 directing the transfer of Omar Liaquat Randhawa a grade-18 officer of Pakistan Administrative Services (PAS), presently posted as Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) Islamabad, and ordered him to report to the establishment Division.

However, on the same day, July 15, secretary interior Yousaf Naseem Khokhar wrote a letter to secretary establishment informing him that the establishment division has issued the orders of transfer of Mr Omar Randhawa without prior consultation with the ministry of interior and thus the interior ministry has ordered the officer to not to relinquish the charge. The interior ministry letter F. No. 1/1/2020-Admin also requested the secretary establishment to withdraw the transfer orders ‘immediately’.

After Mr Randhawa failed to relinquish the charge of the office of ADCG Islamabad, on July 21, the establishment division issued show cause notice to the officer seeking his reply within two days on the charges of ‘misconduct’. The establishment division letter reads;

“Mr. Omer Liaqat Randhawa, (PAS/BS-18), Additional Deputy Commissioner (General),

Islamabad Capital Territory, Islamabad.

Whereas, you were transferred and directed to report to Establishment Division vide this Division’s notification dated 15-07-2020. In compliance whereof, you were required to immediately relinquish charge and report to Establishment Division but you neither relinquished charge nor reported to the Establishment Division.

2. Whereas, you were also verbally conveyed by Joint Secretary (E) multiple times regarding directions of the competent authority for relinquishing charge but you again failed to comply with directions of the competent authority.

3. Whereas, non-compliance of lawful directions of the the competent authority, prima facie, constitutes misconduct on your part which is liable to be proceeded under the Government Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 1973.

4. You are, therefore, called upon to explain your position regarding non-compliance of above orders within two days from the issuance of this letter failing which disciplinary proceedings under the Government Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 1973 shall be initiated against you on this account.”

Omar Liaquat Randhawa was appointed Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) on January 2, 2019, upon his promotion to grade-18. When Randhawa was asked by the Fact Focus (FF) about his support to land mafia he responded that land grabbing primarily needs two bodies, one police and the other ‘patwaris’ (revenue department). “Neither is under me. I am an Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) who does a coordination role in the DC office,” Randhawa told FF adding “All these are baseless and fabricated allegations and the stories published in a section of media on this count were also baseless”.

When asked whether Prime Minister has ordered his removal, Randhawa said that he was not conveyed anything in writing on this count. He dispelled the impression that he was being supported by the interior secretary. “The ministry has taken a principled stance by asking the establishment division to take the relevant ministry in the loop before making any such decision(s),” Randhawa said. He questioned that if the ministries are not to be consulted while taking such an important decision then what was the need of maintaining these ministries? He was of the view that seven PAS officers have been surrendered during the past one year so whatever was happening was not a novel thing.

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