Proceedings’ summary: Apex court to exercise its powers of judicial review

Supreme Court says the Hajj corruption case was not initiated on its orders.


Express August 01, 2011

ISLAMABAD:


The Supreme Court said on Sunday it will continue to safeguard the current democratic and parliamentary system, adding that the judiciary will continue to exercise its constitutional powers of judicial review of administrative and other vital matters.


In a summary of Friday proceedings of the Hajj corruption case released on Sunday by the Supreme Court, it said that while the judiciary, the legislative and the administration remain within their respective domains, the apex court will continue to pursue national interest without let or hindrance.

The apex court said that it had clarified that the case had neither been initiated on its orders nor it had taken a suo motu action in this regard.

As a matter of fact, the apex court said, when the media persons picked up reports of corruption in Hajj facilities, the prime minister formed a special parliamentary committee to review Hajj arrangements, adding that this panel was tasked to submit a report in this regard.

The committee included Maulana Muhammad Qasim, Syed Muhammad Saleh Shah, Peerzada Syed Imran Ahmed Shah, Bilal Yasin and Senator Khalid Mehmood Soomro.

The committee visited Saudi Arabia and submitted its report on September 1 last year in which it was disclosed that there had been large-scale corruption in Hajj arrangements.

A copy of the report was also sent to the Supreme Court.

Senator Khalid Soomro appealed to the apex court to take notice of the matter during a TV show.

The summary said that even before the report was submitted, the Sureme Court had received a letter from a Saudi prince, Prince Bandar bin Khalid bin Abdulaziz, adding that the letter also mentioned massive corruption in Hajj arrangements.

During all this time, it said, domestic newspapers and TV channels continued running stories about Hajj corruption.

As a result, the SC felt compelled that the Hajj corruption had not only usurped the savings of more than 25,000 pilgrims but had also brought a bad name to the country abroad.

Taking the notice the SC demanded a copy of the report from the ministry of religious affairs and also asked the ministry of foreign affairs to submit a separate report.

On July 28, the Supreme Court issued a written order which pronounced making secretary establishment division Sohail Ahmed an OSD (officer on special duty) illegal and against convention.

It said that although it was the federal government’s prerogative to post its officials wherever it wanted, but Sohail Ahmed should either be re-appointed on his previous post or any other post in line with his experience and stature.

The apex court said it had also instructed the government to reinstate Hussain Asghar from Gilgit-Baltistan to FIA, adding that the court had also ordered the drector-general of FIA to take necessary steps to finalise the investigations in connection with the Hajj corruption case. The court said the DG FIA was instructed to submit a comprehensive report in this regard within a week.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2011.

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