SUPREME COURT AND APPOINTMENT OF FEDERAL OMBUDSMAN



  • A petition has been filed with the Supreme Court praying directions for early appointment of the Federal Ombudsman, the post vacant since almost a year. The main argument of the petitioners is that the absence of Ombudsman has deprived thousands seeking justice against injustices from the hands of bureaucracy. Of recently a lot of voices have been raised in the press on this issue. Last month a lady wrote that her petition was lying in Ombudsman Karachi Office and since 8-10 months, according to her wordings the ombudsman had “either gone abroad “or is on leave”. Reading of her letter gives a clear picture that she had been visiting the Office to follow up and what she got from that office was the above “picture”, repeat it from the office. On appearance of this letter very notable Nazim Haji whose brain child is the CPLC one of good so far saved institution, through the press appealed the President of Pakistan for an early appointment of the Federal Ombudsman as, according to him, it is necessary for “good governance”.

    1. Has the existence of ombudsman system (the whole ombudsman system irrespective if Federal, provincial or any other) created any remotest good governance or left its impact generally on the functionaries anywhere? The answer is self speaking seeing the destructive nature of working in any Department one may name it?.

    2. A fortnight back an article on this topic stated that due to non appointment of the new Federal Ombudsman “a hundred” staff has nothing to do. This information sure is wrong as it should be “a thousand plus” about which a real honest person Air Marshal ® Asghar Khan once said that the Federal Ombudsman has a large army either nothing or very little to do. And his observation was and is quite right. The Sindh Ombudsman website on establishment of which a huge was spent and is being spent on its maintaining today 13 November 2011 under “News & Events” reads dating 06 March 2009 that the ombudsman website has been launched. In 2½ years the Sindh Ombudsman and its costly webmaster has dammed care to do a little to update it.

    3. If non appointment of new Ombudsman is really affecting any invisible good governance or "delivery of natural justice" to the masses, then the President of Pakistan His Excellency Asif Zardari must be quite wrong when early last year he showed his concern on the Federal Ombudsman "having become ineffective" following which the then Law Minister Babar Awan assured the Parliament that the Government was going to investigate it.

    4. The Federal Ombudsman or for that matter the whole ombudsman system must have been providing relief to a few thousands on huge expense but has not left any impact or deterring effect on the bureaucracy generally. What is the standard of justice for the last two decades, out of a hundred examples due to space I quote only one for taste. PTCL charged me Rs. 350 towards replacement of telephone set. On my raising the issue the GM Phone Karachi addressed me that it was an error and the Accounts Department was refunding the over charged. Right from Accounts to the said GM I kept on reminding and finally approached the Chairman PTCL but as usual no response and no refund. When after years of waiting I approached the Federal Ombudsman the PTCL submitted that it never charged this amount as its records had no such entry and the complainant be asked to produce the material proof of this alleged over charge. When in rejoinder I produced the copy of GM letter the PTCL this time informed the Federal Ombudsman that refund has already been made. The Federal Ombudsman, the protector of citizens rights, completely side ling the universally established principle of natural justice issued his "Decision" that PTCL had well explained completely ignoring the principle of natural justice that not merely a two line memo but the defendant PTCL also needed to produce proof of payment to the complainant. An ex DG Federal Ombudsman Secretariat once publicly stated that after departure of Mr. Justice Sardar Iqbal the first ombudsman so far unmatched for, the officials in his (Ombudsman) Secretariat shifted their sympathies from the suffering common man to their counterparts in bureaucracy. This is evident from the fact that Ombudsman did not take the due serious note to summon the PTCL to explain its twisting stands that in case it had not over charged as it earlier stated then how the hell and why it refunded the complainant. A medical store charged me Rs. 130/- per packet of an essential medicine against printed price of Rs. 30/-. I complained to the Sindh Health Department which as usual did not give any response. No over charging or pick pocketing can alone be done anywhere without the blessing of concerned functionaries like that of Sindh Health Department. I approached the Sindh Ombudsman in January 2010 against this non response by Health Department. It is almost two years now the Sindh Ombudsman has not even acknowledge me let alone start processing the complaint which for this senior citizen in other words is indirectly protecting the pick-pocketing by an ombudsman. Air Marshal Asghar Khan once said that establishment of ombudsman in Pakistan had increased the corruption. 26 October 2011 I sought information re Shareholders and "copy" of their CNICs from much triumphed CBR Helpline. 24 hours helpline universally means immediate response. Till today I have got no response and I am puzzled as to what good governance impact the existence on huge expense the Tax Ombudsman has left on the FBR. There are three letters to editor today before me writers dismay over FBR Helpline non response.

    5. The ombudsman system can not deliver as appointments here today are on political basis. An ombudsman is literary a "Kazi" who is supposed to be judiciously God fearing honest. So in such a case why should there be a "fight" in getting "my own" man on this seat unless the institution is the politicized or to post a man who in return could "deliver" to the appointing authority. Why was and should had been a tough fights and tactics between PML(N) and PPP in appointing Punjab Ombudsman two years back? This clearly explains as to why our present day Ombudsman system today can not delivery judiciously and honestly. The murder investigation report of the then Punjab Ombudsman read that his murder was a well planned. The murderer knew well that the Ombudsman daily left his residence 10.15 am. Government timings in Punjab had been 08.00 am. Late arrival is an act of mal administration. When an ombudsman himself commits act of mal administration daily the question is as to how any functionary in any Pubjab Government Department would care the Ombudsman warning not to open or arrive late in the office? May one not believe that the Sindh Ombudsman does not know his own office address or phone numbers. He till today on this day of my writing feels himself sitting in Islamabad, not in Karachi. Don’t go on my words, just go to his website.

    6. The present day ombudsman system appears to have hardly any real sympathies with the suffering common man. I know an illiterate Pakistani then working abroad got his throat and fingers slashed in a moving machine. Immediate several operations saved his life. His throat was stitched with the result he was unable even to have liquid food. Every third day when due to hunger he reached near unconscious he was taken to the Emergency for liquid food through drips. He was not even able to lay on bed. He was put on floor with strict instructions not to move even his arm, He approached the Federal Ombudsman on some issues. The Federal Ombudsman in return asked him to complete some just bureaucratic worthless paper formalities threatening with the words "failing to do it within target date adverse action will be taken". No human sympathy at all despite knowing that the man was then on death bed. There is not a single written word anywhere which gives the Ombudsman any power to take any action, let alone adverse, against a complainant if he could not complete the formalities to complete his application.

    7. A detailed article appearing on 21st October 2011 reads that 35,000 complaints have fully been investigated and are awaiting the final decision by the ombudsman. This 75% blind can not instantly produce but remembers well that there is a clause in the Federal Ombudsman procedure that during process of investigation the investigating officer informs the complainant once in three month the progress of his complaint. Out of these 35,000 completed cases pending since one year not a single complainant will verify that he ever received this progress intimation communication from the investigating officer. I solemnly affirm I myself have not received the same even after my reminders. The reason being that in the ombudsman system today there is no respect of rules or procedures. For the ombudsman secretariats or their staff these rules and procedures are only for the others to obey but they themselves are exempt from provision of those. The then Federal Ombudsman (Mr. Usman Ali Shah) once in a press conference in Lahore highlighted his achievements. A reporter pointed him that he was using a car of higher capacity and a tape recorder in it which both were against Government regulations. He became angry that the journalists were unjustified taking note of his high capacity vehicle ignoring the volume of work he was doing. He denied that there was any tape recorder in his car. After the press conference the journalists coming out of building all surrounded his parked car and pointed through the window glasses the presence of tape recorder. At this the the Ombudsman got annoyed and threatened that he could take contempt notice against the journalists.

    8. Last year this senior citizen despite his almost 75% blindness just playing with the key board addressed My Lordship Chief Justice of Pakistan that in proportion to the total national money being spent hardly any significant was being delivered by the present day ombudsman system except for producing very fine annual reports containing figure work of the achievements. Once a Karachi weekly published an article on its front page. Multiplying the number of working days in a year with the number of duty hour a day the weekly divided this sum with the number of “decisions” the then Ombudsman issued as contained in his then Annual Report. The net sum of “05”. The weekly then headlined "what machine the ombudsman had installed which produces one justice every five minute? I prayed and again respectfully beg that the whole ombudsman system be de-established and the money thus saved be transferred to the Public Interest Human Rights Wing of the Supreme Court where it can be used with much better productivity by taking up issues of collective community interest only and monitoring of good governance.

    9. The most unfortunate aspect is that our press despite knowing all such things hardly ever speaks in line with its national duty. Are they still afraid of from the car press conference of Syed Usman Ali Shah which is why they do not feel courage in giving space to citizens feelings; such as to mine? The highly learned Mr. S.M. Zafar once remarked that my (this senior citizen) so much faith on the ombudsman was my share in strengthening the ombudsman system in Pakistan. However this citizen with his extreme dismay has seen since 10-12 continuous deterioration in the system. As the then DG Federal Ombudsman had the courage of telling the truth that the sympathy of officers had shifted from the suffering common man to the bureaucracy, likewise recently a working DG of Sindh Ombudsman from Hyderbad had the courage of speaking truth. Terming that as his personal views I think his further voice dot diminished. This senior citizen whom the first Ombudsman Pakistan Mr. Justice Sardar Mohammad Iqbal more than a dozen time and the first Sindh Ombudsman Mr. S.M. Munir once advised to remain in touch with their Secretariats as according to them that contact gave them necessary feedback, has spelled out his heart in good faith with a great wish that the common man may get "arriving at and delivery of" true justice; justice under principles of natural justice and not as happens today "issuance of decisions".



  • Iftikahr Chaudhary is trying to deceive the nation by his lollipops. The nation needs the materialization of the promises he made during his lawyers' movement. These lollipops are not enough for the nation's satisfaction.