KARACHI - ABDULLAH ZAFAR - Sindh Prisons and Anti-corruption Minister Manzoor Hussain Wassan on Thursday said the provincial government would bring a law in the assembly to make anti-corruption department of Sindh as independent and strengthened body like National Accountability Bureau.

Responding to the queries of Sindh lawmakers, he said the provincial government was committed for ending corruption from the provincial departments. In this regard, the anti-corruption department would be separated from other departments and made an independent body that could work without pressure.

He said there was no role of the anti-corruption minister in the department instead it comes under the ambit of Sindh chief secretary. “Therefore, we have decided to make it an independent body.”

On a suggestion from Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sikandar Mandhro that a law should be made which specifies the time period within which the anti-corruption cases should be decided. “Such laws are also present in other parts of the world,” he said, adding judges are also given guidelines to decide on these cases within one or two months and if not done they were also removed from their posts.

The Speaker Sindh Assembly said decision against corrupt people should come within a month. The minister agreed with it, saying these suggestions would also be included in the lists.

Giving details of the department, the minister said there were anti-corruption departments in each district of the province and 1,081 officials were working in them. “There are 736 vacant seats in the department and we have asked the finance ministry to approve hiring on them. Increase in staff is meant to spread the infrastructure of the department and make it more efficient.”

He said he had ordered an inquiry into the allotment of 36,000 acres of land in Nara district despite ban on land allotment from 1994 to 1997. This land was later sold out at the rate of Rs4.5 million per acre. He informed the House that the ratio of resolving anti-corruption cases was 38 percent but this would further be enhanced as speedy trial is now being done in these cases.

Giving details of the cases registered during 2008-2013 in anti-corruption department, he said 1,334 cases were registered during the above-said period with the decision coming on 862 cases while 472 were yet to be decided. He said no case was registered against the Information and Technology Department during 2009-13, however, 100 cases were registered in anti-corruption department against the education officials for misuse of powers out of which 42 had been decided. “We have also taken action against our department’s official who were found involved in corrupt practices,” he said.

Meanwhile, a funny situation occurred in the session when Manzoor Wasan said in a hurry that the government was trying to do as much corruption as it could do. This sentence caused laughter in the assembly session. He immediately retracted from his words, saying he wanted to say that the government is trying its best to end corruption from the assembly.  The opposition leader taunted at the minister, saying he appreciated Wasan for speaking truth and informing about his government’s intention.