ISLAMABAD: On Wednesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan approved the Civil Servants (E&D) Rules-2020 under the institutional reform policy of the government to improve the performance of bureaucracy and state institutions.
The purpose of these rules, according to a senior official of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), is to ensure transparent and efficient internal accountability of bureaucrats and to bring efficiency and discipline to the service of bureaucrats.
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The investigation against government officials will have to be decided within 90 days under the new rules.
For the first time, plea bargaining and voluntary return have been included in the definition of misconduct and are now being pursued against the civil servants involved bureaucracy.
One of the main features of the rules is that the case will be heard by the ‘authority’,’ investigation officer’ or a ‘committee’ in the case of an inquiry, instead of any ‘authorised officer’ assigned to decide the issue.
“In these terms, the authority means, the PMO official said the official who is authorised to appoint a person against whom the investigation is being initiated.
He said it had been seen earlier that whenever an officer (but not the authority) was assigned to conduct an investigation, he usually disposed of the matter either by issuing minor penalties or under some influence or pressure. At whatever time he deemed appropriate, he could also decide the case.
Nevertheless the institution will now have to decide the case in 30 days.
Under the new rules, in the case of Pakistan Administration Service and Police Service officers posted in the provinces, the Chief Secretary has been given a two-month timeline to submit a fact-finding report, in the absence of which the Establishment Division can proceed alone bureaucracy.
The level of authorised officer has been eliminated in order to speed up the investigation process, leaving only two levels: the authority and the investigation officer/committee.
At every step of the proceedings, timelines have been introduced.
The accused officer will be given approximately 10 to 14 days to respond to the charges, while the committee or investigation officer to be appointed by the authority will have to complete the investigation within 60 days, whereas the authority will have to decide the case within 30 days.
No timeframe was previously set for the conclusion of the proceedings, as a result of which cases persisted for years. The authority/hearing officer would also provide the opportunity for a personal hearing.
The procedural issues relating to the provision of records, slackness on the part of departmental representatives, suspension and deputation/leave/scholarship proceedings against officers have been clearly set out in the new rules.
Furthermore the rules state that the Establishment Division was authorised to issue subsidiary instructions in order to avoid any delay in the finalisation of the investigations.
In a single case, in the case of multiple suspected officers, a restriction on the appointment of a single investigation officer was imposed in order to ensure transparency and to avoid various decisions in a single case.