Founding Editor: Shafqat Munir   

Country goes without Ombudsman since October, 2010: 

15 Junie 2011 01:50:13

Country goes without Ombudsman since October, 2010:

 

Appointment of Federal Ombudsman demanded

 

Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has urged the government to appoint Federal Ombudsman on urgent basis so that citizens have access to cost effective justice against maladministration and seek remedy from Federal Ombudsman when public departments wrongfully deny their information requests.

 

Since the end of October last year, the position of Federal Ombudsman is lying vacant with not even an acting Ombudsman appointed by the president, which is an obligation under the article 7 of the 1983 Order. Office of the Federal Ombudsman was established as the result of President’s order 1 of 1983, with the purpose to redress grievances caused by maladministration in any Federal government agency. The role of this institution is pivotal in offering citizens a mechanism by which complaints can be filed against the Federal Government institutions.

 

Receiving an average of around 3000 complaints per month, the Federal ombudsman redresses grievances of people from all across Pakistan. In 2010 alone the Federal Ombudsman received over 32,000 complaints from various parts of the country, with Punjab leading with 17,469 complaints. In the absence of the Ombudsman, the only remedy available for the aggrieved is the mediation mechanism offered by the investigation officers under the powers conferred by the article 33 of the Order; ‘informal resolution of disputes’. However, the cases that cannot be resolved through this informal dispute resolution mechanism are usually the ones most critical and thus requiring the most immediate attention.

 

Absence of the Federal Ombudsman for over seven months has left no formal mechanism for the people to seek cost effective justice. It is a denial of basic rights to the people wherein a majority of cases are left unresolved; as hearings are carried out but there is no authority to pass the verdict. Apart from providing relief to citizens in cases of maladministration, office of Federal Ombudsman serves as an appellant body in matters pertaining to right to information under Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002. Not only that government has long been dragging its feet on enacting an effective right to information law, it has further weakened the existing law by not appointing head of the appellant body.