The provincial assembly on Tuesday unanimously passed the much-propagated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission Bill, 2013, which provides for the establishment of a five-member Ehtesab Commission and appointment of a director general for preventing corruption and corrupt practices and to hold accountable all public officeholders for these practices.
Under the Act, within 30 days of the enforcement of the act, the government will take necessary steps to set up as many as Ehtesab courts as may be necessary to ensure expeditious trial of offences under this act with territorial areas as specified by the Peshawar High Court and dispensation of justice within prescribed time as specified by the National Judicial Policy.
“Each court will consist of a judge, being a person who is district and sessions judge or a senior additional district and sessions judge. The government after consultation with the Peshawar High Court will appoint a judge of each court.
“The court will not grant any party more than one adjournment during the pendency of a matter from the filing of reference till its disposal.”
Senior Minister Sirajul Haq on behalf of the chief minister tabled the bill, which was recommended by the House’s Select Committee.
Establishment of an independent and autonomous Ehtesab Commission in the province was part of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s election manifesto.
The Select Committee accommodated several amendments moved by the members of the treasury and opposition members. The Ehtesab Commission will comprise five commissioners to be nominated by the search and scrutiny committee and will be sent to legislative committee on governance and accountability for confirmation.
The commissioners will hold office for one non-extendable term of four years. The speaker in consultation with treasury and opposition in the provincial assembly will set up the legislative committee within one month after the commencement of the act. The speaker will chair the legislative committee comprising five members of the House and will evaluate eligible candidates. The Ehtesab Commission has the powers to appoint director general, prosecutor general, and director internal monitoring and public complaints wing for the smooth functioning of the commission and effective discharge of the statutory obligations.
The commission will approve annual budget and regulation required to be made under this act. There will be directorate general of the commission that will comprise information and data processing wing, investigative wing, prosecution, finance and audit, internal and monitoring and human resource wings.
The director general will lead the directorate who will be appointed for a period of non extendable four years.
The DG will cease to hold office if he has been convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude. A person who is a retired government officer in Grade 21/22 or equivalent or is a lawyer eligible to be appointed as a judge of the high court and has served in a leadership position in professional career will be appointed the DG.
The DG or an officer of the commission duly authorised by him may during the course of any inquiry or investigation of an offence under this act. The DG can call any person for the purpose of determining whether there has been any contravention of the provisions of this act or any rule or order made there under.
About financial autonomy of the commission the bill said the remuneration payable to the commissioners, director general, directors, other employees, staff and administrative expenses of the commission will be an expenditure charged upon the provincial consolidate fund.
The DG will be the principal accounting officer of the commission. The Auditor General of Pakistan will audit accounts of the commission.
There will be prosecutor general to be appointed for a period of four years. He will give advices to the commissioners and director general upon such legal matters. He will head the prosecution wing and will be responsible for overseeing the performance of special prosecutors who have been appointed to conduct prosecutions of cases and advocates that have been appointed to institute or define cases, appeals, petitions, applications and all other matters before any court or tribunal. Earlier, provincial Information Minister Shah Farman tabled Provincial Ministers (Salaries, Privileges and Allowances) Ordinance, 2013 seeking increase in house rent of the ministers.
Another ordinance for the establishment of a human rights directorate was also tabled in the assembly.