Lahore: Arrested Wasa officers to be produced in court today
LAHORE: Nine Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) officers booked on Sunday night for ‘causing inconvenience to public’ have also been charged with ‘misappropriation of funds’.
Sections 431 and 290 of PPC (causing inconvenience to public) do not fall under the cognizable offence category but section 409 of PPC (misappropriation of funds) is cognizable.
“Though police are also authorized to arrest an accused charged with misappropriation of funds, primarily the Anti-Corruption Establishment handles such cases,” eminent jurist Abid Hasan Manto told Dawn.
He maintained that the offence – causing inconvenience to public (sections 431 and 290) – was not enough to arrest senior officers of the government. However, the offence under section 409 was cognizable and the police could lodge an FIR against the accused even before holding an inquiry, he said.
He recalled that during the previous government of Nawaz Sharif the issue of arresting the government officers just under sections 431 and 290 had also surfaced.
SSP Shafiq Ahmed did not confirm the arrest of all the nominated officers – a deputy managing director, a director, two Xens, a sub-engineer and four SDOs – but a source said that most of them had been taken into custody while the remaining would be behind the bars by Tuesday (today) morning. The SSP said the accused would be produced before the court on Tuesday. He said that a deputy managing director of Wasa was the complainant in the case.
The source further said that the officers in question had been booked for their failure in clearing water from the Gulberg roads, especially Liberty.
A colleague of the arrested officers lamented the action. “When this government itself says that it has ‘no magic wand’ to change the system overnight, how can it expect the same from the officers of a department”
He said since the drainage system was old and faulty, the arrests were unfair. “The chief minister has no idea how much humiliation they (the officers) are facing for no fault of theirs. Such steps can only make headlines but on the ground they will not pay off,” he said and suggested that the chief minister must keep ‘ground realities’ in mind before ‘terrorizing’ the provincial bureaucracy.
On the other hand, Wasa Vice-Chairman (MNA) Bilal Yasin was of the view that the officers who could not provide facilities to people should better meet this fate. He parried a question about the addition of section 409.
Pervaiz Rashid, chief minister’s adviser, said that millions of rupees had been given to Wasa officers in question to improve the drainage system but they did not perform their duties honestly that caused a lot of inconvenience to the public. He maintained that the officers had been arrested as they had misappropriated huge funds.