The concept of Mohtasib (Ombudsman) is an ancient Islamic concept and many Islamic states had established the office of Mohtasib to ensure that no wrong or injustice was done to the citizens. The Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) introduced a system of accountability. He as well as his companions presented their public and private life and conduct for accountability. Through this Ombudsman concept, an institution of accountability was established and developed with the passage of time. Now a day’s various western states have adopted concept of Ombudsman including Norway, Denmark, Finland, New Zeland, England, India and Pakistan.
2. Meaning of Ombudsman
“An attorney or a delegate, agent, officer or commissioner”.
3. Appointment of Ombudsman
Wafaqi Mohtasib is appointed by President of Pakistan.
4. Terms and conditions for appointment
Following are the important terms and conditions for appointment of Ombudsman
(i) Oath and Tenure
Before entering upon office, Wafaqi Mohtasib takes an oath before President of Pakistan for a period of four years.
(ii) Removal for Office
The Ombudsman can be removed from the office on the ground of misconduct or incapability of performance of duties of his office by reason of physical or mental incapacity.
Wafaqi Mohtasib is not eligible for any extension of tenure or for re-appointment as Ombudsman under any circumstances.
Ombudsman can send his written resignation to President of Pakistan.
(v) Salary and Allowances
The salary, allowances and privileges and other terms and conditions of services of the Ombudsman are determined by the President.
The Wafaqi Mohtasib cannot hold any office profit in the service of Pakistan or occupy any other position carrying the right of remuneration for rendering of services.
5. Jurisdiction of Ombudsman
The Ombudsman can assume jurisdiction on the complaint by an aggrieved person or on a reference by the President, the Parliament or the motion of the Supreme Court or Hight Court during the course of any proceedings before it. The Ombudsman can under take any investigation into any allegation of maladministration on the part of any agency or any of its officers or employees.
5.1. Circumstances, in which Wafaqi Mohtasib cannot exercise his Jurisdiction
In following circumstances, Ombudsman cannot exercise his jurisdiction
(a) Matters, which are sub Judice before court or Judicial Tribunal or Board
Ombudsman does not have any jurisdiction to investigate or inquire into those matters, which are sub judice before a court of competent jurisdiction or judicial tribunal or board in Pakistan on date or receipt of a complaint or reference or on date of motion by him.
(b) Matters, which are about external affairs of Pakistan
Wafaqi Mohtasib does not have any jurisdiction to investigate or inquire into those matters, which are about external affairs of Pakistan or relations or dealings of Pakistan with any foreign state or government.
(c) Matters, which are about defense of Pakistan
Wafaqi Mohtasib does not have any jurisdiction to investigate or inquire those matters, which are about defense of Pakistan or defense of any of its parts, and which are about military, naval and air forces of Pakistan.
6. Powers of Ombudsman
(i) The Ombudsman has the same powers as are vested in a civil court in respect of summoning and enforcement of attendance of any person and examination on oath, compelling the production of documents, receiving evidence on affidavit and issuing commission for the examination of witnesses.
(ii) The ombudsman or any member of the staff authorized in this behalf can enter into any premises for the purposes of any inspection or investigation where he has reason to believe that any article book of account or any other document relating to the subject matter of inspection or investigation would be found.
(iii) The Wafaqi Mohtasib or his delegate could search premises inspect such article, book of accounts or other document, take extracts or copies, impound or seal them or make inventories of the same there from.
(iv) The Ombudsman can also constitute an inspection team for the purpose of any of his function. He can establish standing or advisory committees with specified jurisdiction for performance of such of his functions as are assigned to them from time to time.
(v) The Wafaqi Mohtasib can also delegate, by order in writing such of his powers as may specify in the order to any member of his staff or such delegate are required to submit their reports to the ombudsman with their recommendations for appropriate action.
(vi) The ombudsman can also refer the case of any person guilty of maladministration to the concerned authority for appropriate, corrective or and disciplinary action.
7. Role and Importance of Ombudsman
Following points reveal role and importance of Federal Ombudsman in providing remedies to citizens against administrative actions;
(i) Root causes of corrupt Practices and Injustice
For ascertaining root causes of corrupt practices and injustice, Wafaqi Mohtasib makes arrangements for studies or research. He also recommends appropriate steps for their eradiction.
(ii) Institutionalization of a system for enforcing administrative accountability
Wafaqi Mohtasib is to institutionalize a system for enforcing administrative accountability. In this way, administrative actions are made accountable.
(iii) Investigation and Rectification of Maladministration
Ombudsman is to investigate and rectify maladministration. In this way, maladministration is checked and citizens are provided remedies against maladministration.
(iv) Awarding of Compensation
Ombudsman possesses power to award compensation to those citizens, who have suffered loss or damages as a result of maladministration.
(v) Briding Gab between Administrators and Citizens
Ombudsman bridges gab between administrators and citizens. This role improves friendly relations and atmosphere between them and paves a way for better administration of public affairs by administrators and for better citizen’s understanding of administration of public affairs.
(vi) Improvement of Administrative process and procedures
Ombudsman is to improve administrative process and procedures so as to check misuse of administrative powers and to save citizens from misuse of administrative powers.
(vii) Checking of Misuse of Discretionary Powers
Ombudsman plays an important role in checking misuse of discretionary powers. And checking of discretionary powers saves people from negative effects of misuse of discretionary powers.
To conclude that the office of ombudsman is an effective agency to tackle administrative corruption and maladministration concerned with the diagnosis, investigation, redress and rectification of any injustice done to a person through maladministration of a federal Government Agency. In short institution of ombudsman is public safety value against maladministration.