The Office of the Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman) was established on 24 January 1983 vide President’s Order No. 1 of 1983 with the explicit objective to diagnose, investigate, redress and rectify public grievances against maladministration by government agencies. Article 33 of this Order provides for employing the medium of ‘Informal Resolution of Disputes’ to provide speedy and expeditious relief to citizens by redressing their grievances to promote good governance. The said Article reads as follows:
“Notwithstanding any thing contained in this Order, the Mohtasib and a member of the Staff shall have the authority to informally conciliate, amicably resolve, stipulate, settle or ameliorate any grievance without written memorandum and without the necessity of docketing any complaint or issuing any official notice”.
2. In order to translate the concept into action, a Pilot Project was successfully launched on 14 April 2022. It has so far registered over 200 cases out of which 31 cases have been disposed of till date. In the first phase the following types of cases are being taken up:
- Small contractual claims up to the value of Rs. 50,000/-.
- Disputes based on negotiable instruments valued up to Rs. 50,000/-.
- Any dispute where the parties agree for the resolution of their dispute through Wafaqi Mohtasib Centre for Informal Resolution of Disputes (WMCIRD).
- Complaints relating to delay in processing the payment of pension and other retirement benefits to the retired employees and families of deceased employees, of the Defence Forces.
- Delay in reimbursement of medical claims of employees of federal agencies.
- Delay or refusal in grant of house subsidy or hiring facility to the ministerial staff of federal agencies.
3 The concept of Informal Resolution of Disputes (IRD) is similar in many ways to the centuries old Jirga/Panchayat systems where local elders resolved complaints through the force of moral character, social influence and conventional wisdom. The traditional system has since given way to formal dispute handling processes, the efforts of the common man to claim relief get frustrated due to their inability to hire services of Advocates for filing petitions in the courts of law and face lengthy legal process. Hence, the system of informal resolution of disputes adopted by the Office of Wafaqi Mohtasib responds to the dire need for resolving public complaints at the grass roots level.