Certainly it is a policy shift if special institution status is granted to the Anti-Corruption Establishment, but the DMG-baboos of the provincial officialdom have left no room for the Director General Anti-Corruption Establishment to pursue the proposal.
Now the status is that the DG ACE has been asked to make a comprehensive presentation focussing on actual problems and issues being faced by the Establishment and their viable solutions. However, the presentation can include the implications, if any in case the special institution status would be granted to the ACE.
As per documents, a meeting was held to ‘decide’ ACE special institution status with Chief Secretary Nasir Mahmood Khan Khosa in the chair. It also reviewed the progress on work assigned to sub-committee regarding amendments required in existing laws/rules for smooth functioning of the ACE and consideration for giving ACE a status of ‘Special Institution’ of the Services and General Administration Department under Rules of Business.
Secretary Law briefed the Committee about the progress, and informed that after reviewing existing laws/rules, draft Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment Bill 2010 had been prepared in consonance with the objective of smooth functioning of the organisation, and subsequent rules would be framed after enactment of the proposed law. He further told that certain proposals related to proposed legislation and giving ACE an independent and autonomous status through amendments in the Rules of Business were considered.
The Director-General ACE explained that under existing arrangements, the Establishment is an attached department of the S&GAD. “It is an organisation responsible for the accountability of the government functionaries. Therefore, it should be made independent of government influence so as to revive the confidence and trust of the common man,” he observed, while adding that the institution of the Provincial Mohtasib had also been given status of Special Institution of the S&GAD under Rules of Business.
On the other hand, first, Secretary (Regulations) stated that normally the institutions, which have been mentioned in the Constitution, had been given status of Special Institutions. As there was no mention of ACE in the Constitution, the proposal of DG, ACE was not justified. Secondly, the Additional Chief Secretary supported the view point of Secretary (Regulations). He was of the view that internal improvements should be made as to how problems at the functional level could be addressed within present status of the institution through amendments in existing laws/rules if required.
The Secretary (Services) was of the view that first DG ACE should brief the meeting about problems at the functional level in the disposal of day-to-day business. “Once the problems/issues are identified, then the Committee can discuss whether these can be addressed remaining within the existing laws/rules or by making suitable amendments,” added the Secretary.
Inspector General of Police, while asserting that arguments could be given for and against the proposal, observed that if complete autonomy was given, then the government would not be able to use it as tool. “However, at the same time, the Institution will not be able to get full support of the government after autonomy as it is available today. Therefore, decision on the issue should be taken after due consideration,” he added.
Special Secretary (Finance) told that status quo should be maintained as nothing tangible would be achieved by changing its status. Secretary Law opined that under the Constitution, no institution could be made independent of the government as it would tantamount ‘to a state within state’.
The CS elucidated that internal mechanisms of the institutions lead to proper check and balance and monitoring of their functions. “If such mechanisms work effectively, there would not be any reason of non-trust of the people. The proposal of merely shifting power from one body to another entails serious implications. In case if an institution is made totally independent of the ambit of government, then the head of the institution will be left on its own and there shall not be any system of check and balance,” he averred.