LAHORE: A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Saturday ordered that the audit of Pakistan Railways must be completed in the next six weeks.
The chief justice was hearing a suo motu case of Rs60 billion loss to the railways at the Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry. Justice Umar Ata Bandial was the other member of the bench.
As the proceedings started, the chief justice got annoyed over the absence of Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique.
“Who gave him the exemption from appearing in the court?” the CJP asked.
Upon this the railways secretary replied that the minister had not been summoned to appear before the court.
“Please, call the minister. We will speak in his presence,” the top court judge said.
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After a short while Rafique appeared before the court.
Meanwhile, the minister called the chief justice “an honourable chief justice” over which the latter strongly reacted, asking him to exclude the word “honourable”.
“There is contradiction in your attitude and the words being uttered inside and outside the court room,” the chief justice said.
He also angrily said, “Mr Rafique, if the judges are honourable inside the courtroom, they should be honourable outside as well.”
The minister conceded that not only the people but the government had also got relief from the steps taken by the Supreme Court. He added that his department struggled hard for the betterment of railways and that they looked for the Supreme Court’s appreciation.
The chief justice said that he would definitely shower praise on the railways if no irregularities were found in the audit report, adding that Supreme Court “is trying to set up a system where no one could misuse it”.
"We are ordering an audit of Pakistan Railways," the chief justice said, to which the minister responded that the audit should comprise performance of the past 10 years so that the court could gauge the difference between the performance of the past government and the present one.
The chief justice, however, rejected his suggestion and remarked, "Audits are conducted only of the performance of those who are in power," clarifying that the probe would span over last five years.
"We have tried very hard to reform the railways' system of this country [so] two lines of praise from the court will help our morale," Rafique remarked.
"There will be time for praise if the audit report is satisfactory," Justice Nisar responded.
Earlier this month, Justice Nisar had taken suo motu notice of the losses amounting to Rs60 billion that have been incurred by Pakistan Railways.
The top judge on Saturday ordered the heads of 56 public companies to draw salaries as per their pay scale.
Meanwhile, hearing suo motu notice of alleged corruption in 56 companies, the chief justice remarked that heads of the companies “must draw salaries as per their respective civil servant rules”, adding that they should return the amount paid to them over and above their original pay scale.
“We won’t allow any person to use tax money,” he said, adding, “Billions of rupees has been spent but there is not a single drop of water for people.”
Appearing before the court, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Director General Saleem Shahzad informed the court that the Punjab government had not cooperated with the bureau over records of companies, claiming that 17 of the 56 companies had yet to submit their records.
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The chief justice remarked, “Don’t worry, all the records will be provided to NAB. Let’s see how these companies don’t submit their records to the bureau!”
The court then ordered the 17 companies to submit their record to the accountability bureau within three days.
Also, the chief justice said he would never sit silent after seeing people struggle to cope with the problems.
Addressing a ceremony at the Supreme Court Bar Association at Lahore registry, the chief justice said, “We are doing the work that the government should do.”
He also thanked the lawyers for hanging his picture in the bar association. He said he was the first chief justice whose picture had been placed in the bar.
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