Rao Tehsin seeks copy of news leak inquiry report
ISLAMABAD – Former Principal Information Officer (PIO) Rao Tehsin Ali Khan has formally sought a copy of the “Dawn Leaks” inquiry report with all relevant documents collected during the course of inquiry so that he could decide his future course of action in the wake of disciplinary proceedings to be initiated against him, The Nation has learnt.
The inquiry committee had recommended disciplinary action against Tehsin, a senior officer of the Information Group, under Efficiency and Discipline Rules, 1973, on the charges based on findings of the report, a copy of which has not yet been provided to him.
On November 7, 2016, the government had constituted a committee to probe the source of the story published in daily Dawn on October 6, 2016. The seven-member inquiry committee headed by Justice (red) Aamer Raza Khan was assigned to ascertain the source that leaked the information about a high-level meeting between top military and civilian officials to the newspaper. Other members of the inquiry committee included Secretary Establishment Tahir Shahbaz, Punjab Ombudsman Najam Saeed, Federal Investigation Agency Punjab Director Dr Usman Anwar and one representative each from the Inter-Services Intelligence, the Military Intelligence and the Intelligence Bureau.
According to the legal notice sent through Juwayni and Hawkins, Legal and Financial Advisers separately to the Secretary Ministry of Interior, the Secretary Establishment Division and the Secretary inquiry committee on May 13 and a copy of which is available with The Nation, Tehsin has stated that being an aggrieved person, he has all the legal right to ask for the copy of the said report “to appreciate the factual and legal aspects of contents, findings, recommendations, corroborative evidence, statements and other material, which compelled the committee render such a final opinion”.
This is not the first application submitted by the former PIO. Tehsin had, earlier, sent the same requests on April 28 and May 2 but to no avail.
The legal notice stated that he (Tehsin) was summoned by the committee who in bonafide got recorded his statements and assisted the committee to the best of his knowledge and information. The notice said: “That without touching other recommendations and approvals, to the utmost surprise of our client, through the above-referred office orders, a direction has been passed to proceed against our client under E&D Rules, 1973.”
The office order read: “Rao Tehsin Ali, Principal Information Officer of the Ministry of Information shall be proceeded against under E&D Rules, 1973 on the charges based on findings in the instant report”.
The legal notice further said that the second office order also places its reliance whilst approving the proceedings against Tehsin under E&D Rules, 1973 on the same inquiry report, “therefore, it is abundantly clear that the fundamental charges are taken from the said report and the same will be the allegations against him in the disciplinary proceedings to be initiated as approved”. “Hence therefore, our client is an aggrieved person being effective of the said inquiry report and has all the legal right to ask for the copy of said report to appreciate the factual and legal aspects of contents, findings, recommendations, corroborative evidence, statements and other material, which compelled the committee render such final opinion. Consequently, as instructed by our client, we seek the provision of a copy of the said inquiry report with all the relevant documents collected during the course of inquiry within seven days of the date of receipt of this notice to enable him to decide his legal course of action,” the notice said.
Tehsin was later asked to report to the Establishment Division immediately.
According to Conduct, Efficiency and Discipline of Estacode, which deals with “Supply of Copies of Inquiry Reports to the Accused Officials”, it is a statutory requirement that if a formal inquiry is held, then the authorised officer should, after he has tentatively decided upon the action he proposes to recommend to the Authority, give an opportunity to the accused officer to offer his explanation against the proposed action in the light of the findings of the inquiry officer or inquiry committee, before sending his recommendations to the Authority. This would, of course, necessitate that a copy of the inquiry report be furnished to the accused officer at this stage, and he should be apprised of the action proposed against him. Tehsin is planning to challenge the committee’s recommendations in the court.