LAHORE - Despite three departmental inquiries declaring a principal and a senior clerk guilty of financial irregularities, an administrative secretary brushed the recommendations under the carpet and gave a clean chit to the guilty ones by being 'Competent Authority and having the eye of seeing 'no malafide intentions. Secretary Higher Education Department Ahad Khan Cheema exonerated former principal Government College for Women Sangla Hill Tallat Yasmin and a senior clerk Altaf Hussain of the same institute of embezzlement charges, which were proven correct by the three departmental enquiries comprising of officers even senior to the secretary. Interestingly, none of the inquiry committees differed in their observations, findings and recommendations, except the secretary, whose words seemed to have become a law when he overruled the recommendations of the inquiry committees. If it is the secretary to have the final say, then no inquiry committee should be constituted and Ahad Cheema must use his 'vision and 'authority to either punish or reward the guilty, opined an inquiry officer, seeking anonymity, further questioning whether 'no malafide intentions and 'Competent Authority were tangible reasons for exonerating the guilty. Interestingly, Tallat Yasmin remained acting principal for over 10 years, and the education department did not deem it right to appoint a regular incumbent during this decade. This speaks volumes about either the influence of the lady or the poor working of the department, which is also found guilty of not working as per merit, observed the officer. The secretary did not make himself available for comments despite repeated attempts. Sorry, in a meeting was his SMS reply, which perhaps continued till late night. As per documents, Tallat Yasmin was accused of giving admission to 46 students in the second shift, but were taught in the morning session. She received an amount of Rs 1,65,600 and never deposited it in any official account and kept the money in her purse, which is a serious irregularity. It makes clear the accused officer has no sense of financial discipline, and she may be awarded penalty of stoppage of three increments and may not be posted as principal in future, recommended an inquiry committee. About Altaf Hussain, it was maintained in the inquiry that he never brought the irregularity to the notice of the next higher authority of the education department and was equally responsible for the financial embezzlement. It was recommended that he may be awarded punishment of stoppage of one increment and transferred from the institute. The official sources further confided the accused teacher was being posted as principal of the same institute, which was being primarily attributed to the connections among the higher political and administrative corridors. According to the documents made available by the sources, Principal Government Girls College Shahkot Sajida Nadir headed and conducted the first inquiry, and upon the recommendation of the inquiry, Tallat Yasmin was removed from the post of principal though not put under suspension. However, she was gain posted in the same institute as a lecturer. In the meantime, three officers of BS-19 and BS-20 also conducted enquiries. Principal Government College Gulberg (Lahore) Dr Muhammad Zulfiqar Ali Rana completed an inquiry after meeting teachers and students of GC for Women Sangla Hill. Nevertheless, under certain pressures, the recommendations and observations of the inquiry could not see the light of the day since these were not actualised. He had recommended that departmental action under the Punjab Employees Efficiency and Disciplinary Act (PEEDA) 2006 may be initiated against Tallat Yasmin. He had also mentioned that the embezzled amount would be Rs 0.5 million approximately. Moreover, repeated changes in the enquiries also took place in the meantime. Ultimately, Principal Government Girls College Cooper Road (Lahore) Farzana Shaheen completed the inquiry, and recommended Tallat Yasmin should never be posted as principal in future and as a punishment for indulging in corrupt practices, her three increments should be withdrawn as well. Despite this, Ahad Khan Cheema dared to exonerate Tallat Yasmin and Altaf Hussain by rejecting the findings and recommendations of the three committees. Under the pretext of the personal hearing, the secretary concluded there was no mala fide intention on her part as she kept amount in hand for payment of salary to the hired honorary teachers for the betterment of the college. He maintained this by asserting the usual rhetoric after the careful examination of the record, facts of the case and defence offered by the accused officer and official. By considering himself as the Competent Authority, he Exonerates Mrs Tallat Yasmin and Altaf Hussain as provided under section 13 (3) of the PEEDA Act 2006.