FBR’s attempt to shield tainted officers irks SC

Dismisses a petition seeking review of apex court’s order for action in cargo tracking scam

Our Correspondent April 22, 2024
The Supreme Court of Pakistan. PHOTO: APP/FILE


The Supreme Court dismissed a petition on Saturday seeking a review of its order to take action against certain corrupt officers of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) implicated in a container tracking contract scam.

The court also expressed dissatisfaction with the filing of the review appeal, questioning why the FBR chairman aimed to shield tainted officers.

A three-member bench, presided over by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJ) Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan, addressed the review appeal filed by the FBR against the SC order on Monday.

Read more: CJ Isa to hear cases in Karachi

In April 2022, another SC bench led by Justice Isa had directed the federal government to launch an inquiry to identify FBR officers accountable for awarding a contract to a company for real-time tracking and monitoring of imported cargo in the Afghanistan transit trade.

In a judgment authored by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, it was noted that the FBR officers opted to select an unqualified, inexperienced, and highly conflicted party for the contract.

Justice Isa had expressed regret that these officers prioritized the interests of the company over those of the bureau and the people of Pakistan, contrary to the expected standards of integrity, professionalism, teamwork, courtesy, fairness, transparency, and responsiveness under relevant laws.

Subsequently, the FBR lodged an appeal against the SC order. During the hearing, CJ Isa criticized the appeal, questioning whether the FBR chairman's sole concern was protecting corrupt officers.

Also read: CJ Isa worried about wasteful GOR security

He further queried why government departments seemed dedicated solely to shielding tainted officers. Addressing the lawyer representing the taxman, Justice Isa emphasized that the FBR, as a public organization funded by taxpayers, should not endorse corrupt practices.

He suggested summoning the FBR chief to address these concerns directly.

"What is the problem with you? Why shouldn't action be taken against corrupt people?" he said.

The SC, reiterating its directive for action against corrupt officers, expressed dismay at the organization's intervention on their behalf, labelling the petition as frivolous.

Consequently, the court dismissed the petition, instructing its office to distribute copies of the order to all FBR board members and the finance secretary. The court emphasized that such petitions should be avoided in the future to prevent wastage of the court's time.

Currently, CJ Isa is presiding over a three-member bench hearing various civil and criminal cases at the SC’s Karachi Registry.


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