LAHORE  -  Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has taken notice of illegal transfers/postings in Excise, Taxation and Narcotics Control (ET&NC) Punjab after issuance of schedule of by-elections in various districts.

Sources privy to development said that under pressure of minister excise, the director general had issued transfer orders of over a dozen officers in violation of rules under which no transfer and posting could be made after issuance of by-election schedule.

ECP in its two letters available with The Nation directed DG ET&NC, Akram Ashraf Gondal to withdraw or cancel the orders issued in violation of rules. First letter was issued on September 27, while other on Saturdaay (October 06) against the transfers of Jam Muhammad Arsha, Assistant Excise & Taxation Officer (AETO), Rahim Yar Khan and Aurangzeb Khan ETO (Opt) Rawalpindi respectively. Interestingly, the DG ET&NC posted four officers as ETO against vacant post of Excise-I Rawalpindi in 14 days from September 14-28 due to reasons best known to him only.

Masood Bashir, Sameer Ahmad, Aurangzeb Khan and Rana Aurangzeb were appointed as ETO Rawalpindi on September 14, 17, 24 and 28 respectively.

Another notification was issued on September 14 by DG office through which eight officers were transferred belonging to different districts falling in the list of districts where by-elections are being held.

Sources privy to the development disclosed that DG was helpless before secretary excise who was forwarding the verbal orders of minister excise for illegal transfers. They said that the DG had informed secretary about the by-election schedule announced in the province but secretary responded saying he was under pressure of minister for transfers/ postings.

In two letters of ECP available with The Nation, District Election Commissioners Rahim Yar Khan and Rawalpindi reminded the DG to cancel the issued orders of transfer. The letters further say, “As you know that Election Programme of by-polls in PP-261 and NA-60 has been issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan on August 17. As per the directions of the ECP issued vide notification No. F.8(4)/2018-Cord dated September 03, no government or authority shall post or transfer any officer in the district, where schedule for by-election has been issued till the publication of names of returned candidates. However your office vide order No. 5-42/E/E(E&T)-1 dated September 24 transferred Jam Muhammad Arshad, AETO from Rahim Yar Khan to Multan and in another order No 5-42/E(E&T)-1 dated September 28 transferred Aurangzeb Khan from Rawalpindi to Gujranwala. The transfer of the officers during the period of the by-election is violation of the notification issued by the ECP”.

The letters further said, “In view of the above, You are required to withdraw or cancel the said transfer orders of the officers immediately till the culmination of by-election process under intimation to this office”.

Excise authorities cancelled the transfers which were pointed out by the ECP but the officers who did not approach ECP against their transfers, their transfer orders were yet to be cancelled or withdrawn. Some circles of excise believed that minister was openly talking about the transfer of DG Excise Akram Ashraf Gondal and looking for another candidate to replace the current DG.

When this scribe contacted DG Akram Ashraf he did not attend his cell phone despite repeated efforts. Then Secretary Excise Babar Shafi was contacted and questioned about the transfers during by-election period, he expressed his ignorance about any such transfer orders. He said that he would be able to comment on the issue on Monday.