LAHORE - Livestock and Dairy Development Department (L&DD) former director general Dr Irfan Zahid, currently an OSD, opted for premature retirement as his junior was posted as the DG, sources in the L&DD disclosed.

Instead of posting a regular DG, the department is being run by a junior officer Dr Nawaz Saeed on temporary basis, an official said.

Secretary L&DD Naseem Sadiq said the LHC had stayed the departmental inquiry against Dr Irfan Zahid and on the court orders after completion of the inquiry fate of Dr Zahid will be decided accordingly.

DG Dr Irfan Zahid when contacted alleged that he was being victimised by the department because he could not allow malpractices in the department. He said the L&DD was not honoring the court orders in his case.

It is pertinent to mention here that during 2004-05 Directors (AH), Lahore & Director (P&E) cell of L&DD department submitted a development project titled “Establishment of milk processing plant at Layyah” and the same was submitted to P&D after approval of Secretary L&DD for final clearance. Again in 2005-06 the same proposal was initiated by the Director L&DD Rawalpindi (Hameed Ullah Shah) with the addition of Sialkot area. This PC-1 was discussed and conceptually approved by the PDWP on 25-07-2005. Funds to execute the same were also provided in the ADP 2005-06, the documents said.

Accordingly, in the modified PC-1, the department was not assigned any role and the entire responsibility of implementation, execution & operation maintenance was entrusted to the NGO’s i.e. Idara e Kissan (IK), PRSP & PDDC.

L&DD Department was to coordinate with implementers through Director L&DD Rawalpindi who was to perform the duties of coordinator by coordinating with the IK, PRSP & PDDC. According to modified PC-1, it was specifically mentioned that “The monitoring and evaluation will be done by the planning and Evaluation Cell of L&DD department and Monitoring & Evaluation Section of P&D department, Punjab”.

A steering committee under the chairmanship of the Chairman P&D Board was formed to review the progress and discuss all the issues related to the project. During the implementation period, Secretary L&DD got the project inquired, evaluated through different committees including two committees approved by the CM Punjab.

On 2nd July 2012, Secretary L&DD requested DG (Anticorruption) for inquiry against Chairman IK Executive Committee and CEO IK, but the ACE just to make the case cognizable involved Dr Irfan & eleven other departmental officers in this case without proper investigation and arrested them. The DG and other senior officers were bailed out by the Special Judge Anticorruption with clear observation. Secretary L&DD constituted a committee headed by Ramzan Shahid Additional Secretary L&DD to probe into the affairs of EMPP project viz-a-viz role of departmental officers in the same. The Committee exonerated all the officers of L&DD department of any financial bungling as they were not assigned any role to play in its implementation.

The department coerced the committee into signing an altered report wherein Director General (Ext) and three other officers were held responsible for inefficiency and lack of monitoring resulting in loss of government funds. Dr Irfan Zahid filed a writ petition in Lahore High Court with the prayer that any proceedings initiated on the basis of  altered report may be quashed and respondents be refrained from proceeding any further against the petitioner on the basis of said report. Ramzan Shahid (Convener probe committee) submitted his reply by appearing in the court in person.

The LHC in its order observed that former AS Ramzan Shahid totally disowns the changed report and fully supports the original report and directed that no adverse action shall be taken against the petitioner in pursuance of said changed report.

On the other hand the department got approval for initiation of disciplinary proceedings under PEEDA Act against Dr Irfan Zahid and his posting as Chief Research Officer (CRO), Buffalo Research Institute, Pattoki on the basis of altered report. But the inquiry under PEEDA Act was suspended by the LHC.

The DG filed as representation against posting as Chief Research Officer before the Chief Minister Punjab which was turned down vide letter dated 22nd October 2013 reportedly, on the plea of department that case is pending in the trial court. But, interestingly, all the other co-accused in the same case were posted against higher posts during the pendency of the case. All the government officials, including DG Dr Irfan Zahid involved in this case had been acquitted by the Special Anticorruption Court.

It is worth mentioning that secretary L&DD and secretary (Services) S&GAD of the summary submitted to the Punjab CM regarding posting of Dr Irfan categorically admitted that only post which is commensurate to the rank and status of the post of CRO, BRI Pattoki does not commensurate with the rank and status of DG (Ext).  

A review petition was filed by Dr Irfan Zahid before the worthy Chief Minister to decide the same and posting him against his substantive post which commensurate to his status as per Rules of business but no decision has been reportedly made on the said review appeal. An appeal was also filed in the Punjab Services Tribunal against the posting as CRO, BRI, Pattoki. The Chairman PST accepted the appeal and set aside the impugned orders of posting Dr Irfan as CRO, BRI Pattoki by considering the same neither in the public interest nor in good faith. The chairman PST has also observed in his rulings that “Disciplinary proceedings should have been initiated against the authority that exerted duress on the convenor of committee to alter the report. Instead of initiating the proceedings against those who compelled the committee to alter the report under duress, frivolous proceedings have been initiated against the appellant”.