Fighting against Maladministration in Pakistan
Establishment of the Office of Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman) Order, 1983
Appointment of Mohtasib
(1) There shall be a Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman), who shall be appointed by the President.
(2) Before entering upon office, the Mohtasib shall take an oath before the President in the form set out in the First Schedule.
(3) The Mohtasib shall, in all matters, perform his functions and exercise his powers fairly, honestly, diligently and independently of the executive; and all executive authorities throughout Pakistan shall act in aid of the Mohtasib.
Jurisdiction, functions and power of the Mohtasib
(1) The Mohtasib may, on a complaint by any aggrieved person, on a reference by the President, the Federal Council or the National Assembly, as the case may be, or on a motion of the Supreme Court or a High Court made during the course of any proceedings before it or of his own motion, undertake any investigation into any allegation of maladministration on the part of any Agency or any of its officers or employees:
Provided that the Mohtasib shall not have any jurisdiction to investigate or
inquire into any matters which:
(a) are sub-judice before a court of competent jurisdiction or tribunal or board in Pakistan on the date of the receipt of a complaint, reference or motion by him; or
(b) relate to the external affairs of Pakistan or the relations or dealing of Pakistan with any foreign state or government; or
(c) relate to, or are connected with the defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, the military, naval and air forces of Pakistan, or the matters covered by the laws relating to those forces.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in clause (1), the Mohtasib shall not accept for investigation any complaint by or on behalf of a public servant or functionary concerning any matters relating to the Agency in which he is, or has been, working in respect of any personal grievance relating to his service therein.
(3) For carrying out the objectives of this Order and, in particular for ascertaining the root causes of corrupt practices and injustice, the Mohtasib may arrange for studies to be made or research to be conducted and may recommend appropriate steps for their eradication.
(4) The Mohtasib may set up regional offices as, when and where required.
Areas which are outside the purview of Ombudsman Secretariat:
- Matters that are Sub-judice
- Matters relating to External Affairs
- Matters relating to Defence
- Service Matters
- Federal Public Service Commission
There are independent Mohtasibs (Ombudsman) for (i) Tax matters, (ii) Insurance matters concerning private insurance companies, (iii) Banking matters concerning private banks; and (iv) Harassment of women at workplace.
Power to punish for contempt
(1) The Mohtasib shall have same powers, mutatis mutandis, as the Supreme Court has to punish any person for its contempt who:
(a) abuses, interferes with, impedes, imperils, or obstructs the process of the Mohtasib in any way or disobeys any order of the Mohtasib;
(b) scandalises the Mohtasib or otherwise does anything which tends to bring the Mohtasib, his staff or nominees or any person authorised by the Mohtasib in relation to his office, into hatred, ridicule or contempt;
(c) does anything which tends to prejudice the determination of a matter pending before the Mohtasib; or
(d) does any other thing which, by any other law, constitutes contempt of court:
Provided that fair comments made in good faith and in public interest on the working of the Mohtasib or any of his staff, or on final report of the Mohtasib after the completion of the investigation shall not constitute contempt of the Mohtasib or his Office.
(2) Any person sentenced under clause (1) may, notwithstanding anything herein contained, within thirty days of the passing of the order, appeal to the Supreme Court.
(3) Nothing in this Article takes away from the power of the President to grant pardon, reprieve or respite and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority.
Representation to President
Any person aggrieved by a decision or order of the Mohtasib may, within thirty days of the decision or order, make a representation to the President, who may pass such order thereon as he may deem fit.
Wafaqi Mohtasib (Investigation and Disposal of Complaints) Regulations, 2013
Presentation of complaints
(1) A complaint written in English or Urdu or any regional language may be presented at the Head Office or any of the Regional Offices by the complainant personally or through his representative or may be sent by post, courier service, fax, e-mail, online or any other means of communication.
(2) The territorial jurisdiction of the Head Office and Regional Offices shall be as specified in the Schedule to these regulations:
Provided that the Mohtasib may direct that a complaint falling within territorial jurisdiction of Head Office or any Regional Office may be investigated at another Regional Office or the Head Office.
(3) Each complaint shall be preferably made on the format as set out in Form A or in the manner thereof in accordance with the instructions attached thereto.
(4) Where a complaint is not made on the format set out in Form A, it shall be accompanied by a solemn affirmation that —
(a) the allegations contained in the complaint are correct and true to the best of knowledge and belief of the complainant;
(b) previously no complaint on the subject was filed at any Registry; and
(c) no suit, appeal, petition or any other judicial proceedings, in connection with subject-matter of the complaint, is pending before any court, tribunal or board.
(5) On receipt of a complaint, the concerned official in the Registry shall enter particulars of the complaint in the diary register giving it a diary number, issue acknowledgement thereof to the complainant and forward it to the Registrar.
(6) The official receiving the complaint shall assist the complainant in drafting the complaint and filling the Form A, if such assistance is required. He shall also translate the complaint in English/ Urdu if it is written in any of the regional languages.
Entrustment of complaints to Investigating Officers
(1) For the purpose of investigation of the allegations made in the complaint, the Mohtasib may, by order in writing, generally or in a particular case, authorise any officer of the Office to exercise the powers under clauses (1) and (3) of Article 14.
(2) A complaint received in Head Office or any Regional Office against an Agency, not located within its territorial jurisdiction, shall be sent for investigation to the Regional Office or the Head Office of appropriate territorial jurisdiction:
Provided that the Mohtasib may direct that a complaint may be investigated by a particular Investigating Officer posted at the Head Office or any Regional Office.
Conduct of hearing
(1) Without prejudice to power of the Investigating Officer to summon any
officer by name from the Agency, the Agency shall ordinarily be asked to depute an officer fully conversant with facts of the case for the purpose of hearing:
Provided that heads of the Ministries, Divisions or departments or the officers of the rank of Additional Secretary and above shall be summoned only with approval of the Mohtasib.
(2) The representative of the Agency and the complainant, wherever deemed appropriate, may not be called for hearing on the same day if a confrontation or misunderstanding is anticipated.
(3) The hearings shall not be adversarial but in the nature of a conference for ascertaining facts, practice and procedures of the Agency relevant to the investigation and efforts shall be made to resolve the matter through informal discussion and persuasion.
(4) The mutual agreement or undertaking given by parties may be recorded and signed by the persons representing the parties.
(5) If for any reason, the hearing is to be adjourned or fixed for another date or time, the Investigating Officer shall inform both the parties well in time of the next date of hearing and time thereof.
Categories: Law of Pakistan