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Date Posted: 06:34:58 01/23/05 Sun
Author: JAVED

By Javed - 27 Deceber 2003

According to DAWN 16.10.2003 “There is a need to revisit ombudsman law – says Khairi” the outgoing Sindh Ombudsman Mr. Justice ® Haziqu-ul-Khairi. He said that the institution of ombudsman is not performing optimally as many of its judgements are set aside by the executive every year. There are two reasons for this and according to ex ombudsman one of the two is that in many cases people not properly schooled in legal matters have been made federal or provincial ombudsmen. He further says the president and governor are invariably advised by persons (in the Ministry of Justice and the Governor’s Secretariat etc) whose legal acumen is not as sound resulting in injustices to the aggrieved.

Whether our ombudsman system (Ombudsman system as a whole; and not any particular federal or provincial ombudsman) needs any further teething power or not is a separate issue not subject of my letter. However in this connection the ever best article written is by country’s very senior intellectual Muno Bhahi entitled “Farishtays do not need more powers”. He wrote his column on the background of the then Federal Ombudsman (perhaps Mr. Usman Ali Shah) on return from China shying that in China even the ministers are suspended on reference from ombudsman.

It is generally universally said that these are not the laws or regulations which give justice to an aggrieved rather it is the man sitting on the chair who dispenses of justice. If the man on seat is public spirited believing laws are for collective betterment of the society and not for controlling or punishing it, he would interpret the law/regulation from larger public welfare point of view. But if the man is not public spirited he would interpret the same law from authorities point of view.

As such it is wrong to say that only judges /legal fertanity can give justice.
I have no political affliation of any kind. But I have seen from my own naked eyes that those who were yesterday raising slogans for restoration of democracy next morning standing in queues before Martial Law offices with complaints in their hands seeking justice as they believed military people (mostly having no legal eduation) were more public spirited and dispensed the justice truly and honestly. A highly reputed advocate I know instead going to court seeked and got justice from Martial Law Office for getting his house vacated.

Here is story of one issue but with different decisions. In the story error of omission and comission re sequence of development, dates, timing etc are expected but main facts of the story are true.

First half of 1990s due to law and order situation foolishly feeling the need to hold a Pistol or Revolvor I applied through a letter seprately to each Federal Interior Ministry as well as to Sindh Home Department. Incidentlly since my letter applications were recommended and forwarded by another Government Department I received NOC/approvals from both advising me to complete the necessary formalities to get the arms licence. Both with Federal Interior Ministry and Sindh Home Department necessary paper work including payment of prescribed fees was completed and both the Departments gave dates for collection of arms licence.

On due date the licence was not ready and a further fresh date for collection was given by Federal Interior Ministry which date was further re-extended. On fresh date Interior Ministry refused to give the licence on the ground that now government had imposed an embargo on issuance of new arms licence. A formal complaint with Federal Ombudsman was lodged. The Interior Ministry submitted that no-doubt approval was given to the complainant but before licence could be ready the government placed embargo hence licence can not be issued. The Federal Ombudsman (a Judge having studied law) agreed to this submission and turned down my complaint. He did not consider even a minute that it was the inefficiency of the Ministry in the first place that it did not made the licence ready by target date which is an act of “Mal Administration” and the complainant suffered due to this inefficiency as had the licence been made ready by given date there was no embargo then. After some time (perhaps when new Federal Ombudsman took charge) with a new hope a revision petition was filed with Federal Ombudsman. This time to the best of my memories in this revision petition I took up a new stand by submiting many figures showing how many licences were issued after the ban and thus I was deprived despite having obtained prior approval. The Federal Ombudsman who was a “Law Judge” again turned down my revision petition agreeing to Interior Ministry that complainant can apply for refund through a very long procedure (which perhaps will cost me more than the refund). Thus for the last perhaps about 10 years my hard earned money deposited as Fee is lying with a Federal Government Department whereas there exists a Federal Ombudsman in the country.

When on given date Sindh Home Department was approached it refused to issue licence on the ground that there was now a government ban. A formal complaint was made with Sindh Ombudsman. Sindh Ombudsman was not a Judge or from legal fertanity but purely a bureaucrat (Mr. S. Wasim). In his order he stated Arms licence was merely a small paper book while the real thing is approval/NOC. After issuance of NOC and accepting fees from the complainant it was merely a matter of issuance of a paper book certifying that the citizen was entitled to hold a licence. Since the Sindh government had already scrutinised and found the applicant capable of holding an arms and had accordingly received payment from him hence emarbo does not apply on him as that embargo was on new fresh applications. Accorodingly in his final order the bureaucrat ombudsman ordered Sindh Home Departent to issue the licence.

Case is the same. Issues is the same. Law is the same, rules are the same, embargo is the same. Rather clearly in case of Federal level involving inefficiency. But decisions are totally different. On one seat is a Judge who spent his life in law field, on the other seat is purely a bureaucrat which in our soceity is considered as “heartless and stone heart” class. What is justice, who gives justice, one can visulise from the above two.

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