People very often raise their voices against various shortcomings and limitations of public administration. As a remedy to these grievances against public administration alertness at various levels has been found and the creation of Ombudsman is a bold step towards it. 

The meaning of Ombudsman, is an official appointed to investigate individuals’ complaints against maladministration, especially that of public authority. The precise meaning of the term Ombudsman is a ‘grievance officer’. An Ombudsman is a public officer whose job is to investigate the grievances, raised by citizens regarding maladministration of the authority. 

The concept of Ombudsman first originated in Sweden, more than two centuries ago. From the beginning of the twentieth century several other European states and thereafter it has been accepted in other countries including Norway, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, England, India and now Pakistan. 

Garner rightly describes him as; 

“An officer of Parliament, having as his primary functions, the duty of acting as an agent for Parliament, for the purpose of safeguarding citizens against abuse or misuse of administrative power by the executive” 

The institution of the Ombudsman Punjab was established on 30th September, 1996 through an Ordinance. For making the Office of Ombudsman more accessible and effective, the outreach of this Office has been extended by establishing district offices in all districts of the Punjab in May, 2014. 

The present Ombudsman, Mr. Najam Saeed is the 7th Ombudsman. During the past 20 years, eminent personalities served as Ombudsman Punjab including Mr. Justice ® Munir Ahmad Khan and many more. 

The law empowers the Ombudsman Punjab to entertain complaints against any department or office of the Provincial Government or a statutory corporation or other institution established or controlled by the Provincial Government but does not include the High Court. The Ombudsman has the same powers as are vested in a Civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. 

During the 20 years of its establishment a large number of complaints have been received and according to the Ombudsman Punjab Annual Report, 2016, complaints received in the last 20 years were 268792, out of which 265685 have been disposed of during the said years, while 3107 complaints are pending. The highly appreciable performance of the institution during the last 20 years is a vivid evidence of its commitment to provide free and speedy justice. 

SHAFAQAT ALI,  

Lahore, September 14.