'You should have resigned after Tezgam tragedy': SC grills Sheikh Rashid

Apex court instructs minister to submit a 'profit plan' within two weeks

Our Correspondent January 28, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday criticised the Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid for the organisation’s poor performance and said the minister should have resigned after the Tezgam tragedy which claimed 74 lives.

Resuming the hearing of a suo motu case initiated by former CJP Saqib Nisar pertaining to losses incurred by the Pakistan Railways, the apex court also expressed displeasure over Rashid’s running of the strategic national organisation.

“Your [Sheikh Rashid’s] entire performance is in front of us,” Justice Ahmed said. “Why should you not be held accountable for the deaths of 74 people? What investigation was conducted? You should have resigned after the incident,” asked the three-member bench.

The apex court on Monday had remarked that Pakistan Railways was the ‘most corrupt’ institution in the country.

The county’s top judge also remarked that the railways should be closed adding that “we do not need such intuition”.

SC describes railways as ‘most corrupt’ institution

In reply, the minister claimed that 19 people had been held accountable for the incident and the top management should also be held responsible.

“Gatekeepers and train drivers were fired whereas you are the senior most," replied the CJP.

The railway minister implored that the only solution to problems faced by Pakistan Railways is the ML-1 project which is a 14-year-old project, but has not yet been executed.

Rashid pleaded the apex court for more time adding that he would resign if he does not meet the required standards.

The chief justice said that ML-1 is not a "conjuring trick" which would fix everything.  He stressed that the entire department is politicized and nothing is functioning properly.

“The stations and railway tracks are not in order. The freight trains are also not operating,” CJP remarked. Officers are inducted after taking bribes.”

During the hearing, the CJP asked the minster to assess the situation of Karachi Circular Railways as well. “Railway officer allot land to whomever they want to. People are tired of hearing your rhetoric.”

Tezgam train inferno death toll reaches 74

“Being a seasoned politician, your performance should have been the best among the others, but your intuition is crumbling,” Justice Ahmed remarked.

Adjourning the hearing till February 12, the top court further ordered Rashid to submit a ‘profitable plan’ for PR within two weeks.

“If the minister doesn’t comply, the minister would be issued a contempt of court,” the top court remarked.

Former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique had also appeared before the apex court during the tenure of CJP Nisar and submitted a reply with regard to billions of rupees losses faced by the PR during his period. He had stated that no corruption or irregularities had been mentioned in the audit paras.


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