Historical Background

he institution of Ombudsman was set up in the Province of Punjab in September 1996.  The Ombudsman’s institution has been accorded statutory permanence by the Government in the form of enactment in June 1997.

As per preamble of Act X of 1997, the Office of Ombudsman has been established for protection of the rights of the people, ensuring adherence to the rule of law, diagnosing, redressing and rectifying any injustice done to a person through mal-administration and suppressing corrupt practices.

In the light of the provisions of the afore-mentioned Act, the Ombudsman is to rectify mal-administration occurring in any Agency.  As per Section (2) Sub Section (1), “Agency” means a Department, Commission or office of the Provincial Government or statutory corporation or other institution established or controlled by the Provincial Government but does not include the High Court and courts working under the supervision and control of the High Court and the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab and its Secretariat.

The jurisdiction of the Provincial Ombudsman does not extend to matters which are subjudice before a Court of competent jurisdiction, on the date of the receipt of the complaint or relate to external affairs of Pakistan or connected with Defence of Pakistan, the Military, Naval, Air Force in Pakistan, or relate to personal grievance of public servants against the department where they are or had been serving.  In cases where the complaints are not entertainable, the reasons are required to be given for rejection thereof.

The Ombudsman has the same powers as are vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure in respect of summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath; compelling the production of documents; receiving evidence on affidavits; and issuing commission for the examination of witnesses. The Ombudsman in Punjab has the same powers as the High Court has to punish any person for contempt who abuses, interferes with or obstructs the process of the Ombudsman in any way. However, fair comments made in good faith and in public interest do not constitute contempt of the Ombudsman or his office.

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