Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman)’s Institution in Pakistan

The President’s Order No. 1 of 1983. “Establishment of the Office of Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman) Order, 1983”, now a part of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan by virtue of Article 270-A, was enforced in 1983. As a result, the Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman)’s Institution was established with the charter to “diagnose, investigate, redress and rectify any injustice done to a person through Mal-administration”.

“Mal-administration” includes:

(i)      a decision, process, recommendation, act of omission or commission which:

a)                        is contrary to law, rules or regulations or is a departure from established practice or procedure, unless it is bona fide and for valid reasons; or

b)                       is perverse, arbitrary or unreasonable, unjust, biased, oppressive, or discriminatory; or

c)            is based on irrelevant grounds; or

d)                       involves the exercise of powers or the failure or refusal to do so, for corrupt or improper motives, such as, bribery jobbery, favouritism, nepotism and administrative excesses; and

(ii)     neglect, inattention, delay, incompetence, inefficiency and ineptitude, in the          administration or discharge of duties and responsibilities.

The present Wafaqi Mohtasib is Mr. Imtiaz Ahmad Sahibzada. He took oath of the office on 25th February, 2003.

Jurisdiction
The Mohtasib may on a complaint by any aggrieved person, or 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 an allegation of mal-administration on the part of any Agency or any of its officers or employees. The ‘Agency’ includes a Ministry, Division, Department, Commission or office of the Federal Government or statutory corporation or other institution established or controlled by the Federal Government. The Mohtasib, however, does not investigate or inquire into any matters which are subjudice, or relate to a grievance of a public servant against an Agency in respect of his service therein or relate to the external affairs of Pakistan, or are connected with the Defence of Pakistan or its Military, Naval and Air Forces.

Investigation of Complaints
A complaint written in English or Urdu may be presented personally to the Wafaqi Mohtasib or submitted by post or courier service to the Head Office or any of the Regional Offices by the complainant.

·        Where the grievance of a complainant against an Agency prima facie amounts to mal-administration, the Mohtasib or his Authorised Officer may admit the complaint for investigation.

·        Where a complaint is admitted, the Registrar issues an acknowledgement of receipt and passes it onto the Officer authorised to investigate it. Where, however, a complaint is rejected in limine, the Registrar informs the complainant of the reasons for rejection.

·        Where the Investigating Officer finds that the grievance relates to an Agency which falls within the jurisdiction of the Mohtasib and prima facie there appears to be a case of mal-administration on the part of the Agency, a report in respect of the allegations contained in the complaint is called for in writing. In emergent cases the reports are obtained through telephone, telex, fax, e-mail or any other means of communication.

·        Non-adversarial hearings of the parties for ascertaining facts, practice and procedures of the Agency relevant to the investigation are held to resolve the matter either formally or through informal discussion and persuasion, if so required.

·        On completion of the deliberations of investigation, if mal-administration is established, the Findings/ Recommendations on being approved by the Mohtasib, are conveyed to the complainant and the Agency for implementation within a specified period of time. If no mal-administration is established, the case is closed and the complainant informed accordingly.

Implementation of Findings/Recommendations
Where the Wafaqi Mohtasib communicates his Findings/Recommenda­tions to the Agency for implementation the Agency has the option to approach the Mohtasib for review or representation to the President. The complainant can, however, only make a representation to the President. Where the Agency fails to seek recourse to the President or the Mohtasib within the stipulated time, the findings/ recommendations of the Mohtasib attained finality and non-compliance, thereafter attracts the provisions of P.O.No.1 of 1983 for ‘defiance of recommendations’ and submission of the case for appropriate action against officers of the Agency to the President.

Studies and Reports
To ascertain 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. The Mohtasib is also obliged to submit an Annual Report and any other special reports relating to his functions, to the President, which is required to be placed before the Parliament.

Power to Punish for Contempt
The Mohtasib has also been vested with the same powers, mutatis mutandis, as the Supreme Court of Pakistan to punish any person for any act done to impede his functions, or to bring him or his staff into ridicule, hatred or contempt, or to prejudice the determination of a matter pending before him etc.

Performance/Achievements of the Institution

Performance of Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman) Institution,
since August 1983 to December 2002
No. of complaints Received
:
767,404
Disposed off after initial scrutiny
:
417,888
Investigated
:
349,516
Relief Provided
:
260,310

Performance of Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman) Institution,
during the year 2002
No. of complaints Received
:
31,613
Disposed off after initial scrutiny
:
10,636
Investigated
:
20,977
Relief Provided
:
13,567
REGIONAL OFFICES
Apart from Head Office located at Islamabad the institution has seven Regional Offices, at Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta and Sukkur.

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