EXCLUSIVE: Parvez Elahi On Anti-Corruption's Radar For Illegally Recruiting 12 Employees In Punjab Assembly

EXCLUSIVE: Parvez Elahi On Anti-Corruption's Radar For Illegally Recruiting 12 Employees In Punjab Assembly
The Punjab Anti Corruption Establishment (ACE) has registered an FIR against former Punjab chief minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) President Chaudhry Parvez Elahi for allegedly making illegal appointments of blue-eyed individuals in the assembly secretariat, The Friday Times has learnt.

Others booked in the FIR include a key aide of Elahi and former Punjab Assembly secretary Muhammad Khan Bhatti, former Punjab Assembly coordination secretary Rai Mumtaz Hussain Babar, and PA&R DG Inayatullah Lak, among others.

They have been accused of appointing 12 employees illegally in basic pay scale (BPS) grade-17 at the Punjab Assembly.

Why was the recruitment illegal?

An ACE official, who was part of the investigation team, told The Friday Times they came across an advertisement published in the newspapers on May 26, 2021.

This advertisement showcased 12 openings, including six research officers (general), one research officer for law and parliamentary affairs, two research officers for legal drafting, one protocol officer, one assistant director and one electrical engineer.

All of the advertised posts were of BPS grade-17.

The advertisement mentioned that appointments would be finalized by a departmental selection board chaired by the then Punjab Assembly Speaker Elahi and comprising the then Punjab Assembly Secretary Muhammad Khan Bhatti (member selection committee), former secretary coordination Punjab Assembly Rai Mumtaz Hussain Babar (secretary selection committee) and Inayatullah Lak (member of the selection committee).

A qualifying exam was held using the Open Testing Service (OTS) to shortlist candidates for these posts.

But ACE has accused the departmental selection board of conniving with OTS officials to ensure that certain individuals pass the exam despite failing. This was allegedly achieved by tampering with the marks they had obtained in the system.

A senior official who was part of the investigation team told The Friday Times that 12 officers, who had allegedly failed the exam as per OTS records but whose marks were later artificially inflated, had obtained 34, 28, 45, 46, 21, 23, 42, 08, 43, 39, 42 and 27 marks respectively.

They were artificially inflated to 66, 67, 65, 68, 65, 67, 50, 59, 59, 66, 59 and 69 respectively.

"The passing marks were 50, and the result was tampered with to recruit people who are close to Elahi and his accomplices," said the senior ACE official, who declined to give his name because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

He added that all individuals who benefited from the tampering of marks hailed from Mandi Bahuddin and Gujarat -- the hometown of Elahi and Muhammad Khan Bhatti.

Magistrate and Accountability Court Judge gave bail to Elahi

Sources privy to this development told The Friday Times that ACE officials had collected documentary evidence against Elahi and his accomplices and showed it to the courts. Still, Judicial Magistrate Ghulam Murtaza Virk and Accountability Court Judge Ali Raza gave them bail.

ACE sources privy to this development said it will be difficult now to convict the former chief minister and his accomplices. They claimed to possess "irrefutable evidence" against the suspects. They accused them of corruption, taking kickbacks, laundering money and irregularities in different cases.

They added that they could petition for a different magistrate to hear the case to guard against bias.

The writer is a senior correspondent at The Friday Times with a focus on politics, economy and militancy.