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KARACHI: Sindh High Court (SHC) has ruled that any convicted official, released on bail pending determination of his appeal, would not claim such suspension as a "clean chit" for holding public office and shall not be entitled to hold public office till decision of his appeal.

Thus, all convicted officers of all categories, though they have been granted bail, shall be removed from posting within three days, a division bench of SHC headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar ordered in a written order on a petition.

Court, shedding light on legal position, stated that 'suspension of sentence does not amount to setting aside of conviction' which (judgment of conviction) continues with its legal effects unless it is set-aside and declare that mere suspension of sentence and release of convict on bail, therefore, becomes of no legal effects if at the end of day the appellate Court stamps the conviction.

It is needful to add that requirement (s) to hold public office always includes 'the person with character and antecedent; therefore, in matters of convicted public officers(s), giving effect to above legal position, was/ is a 'must' as rightly assented by counsel for NAB.

Accordingly, any convicted official, though released on bail pending determination of his appeal, would not claim such suspension as 'clean chit' for holding public office but shall not be entitled to hold public office till the decision of his appeal. Thus, all convicted officers of all categories, though they have been granted bail, shall be removed from posting within three (03) days. Such definite statement shall be filed by the Secretary (Services) with his personal affidavit along with list of those officers and orders passed by competent authorities, the court directed

Whereas issue of voluntary return (VR) and officers, who entered in VR in view of Section 25 and Section 15 of the NAB Ordinance, 1999, bench observed that vires are pending before the apex Court; decision whereof shall have its legal effects.

Though, this court has passed certain directions with regard to disciplinary proceedings; however, at this stage, we are not diving in this issue and will examine it in appropriate proceedings.

Bench ordered Chief Secretary Sindh and secretaries of all departments to ensure compliance, and declared that defiance would be treated as pejorative act, liable to be contempt proceedings, as well as any posting in future would be taken a date to commit contempt of court. Court also ordered Chief Secretary and Secretary Services to file compliance report along with complete list of officers removed under this order.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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