• Fri. May 26th, 2023

Constitution should be torn up if SC doesn’t audit Dam Fund: PAC

ISLAMABAD: Taking a strong notice of the Registrar Supreme Court skipping its meeting, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Tuesday gave him the last chance for appearance.

The registrar had to appear before the committee for an examination of the audit of the apex court expenditure and also to brief it on the dam fund created by former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar but instead the deputy registrar appeared.

Chairman PAC Noor Alam Khan said if the Supreme Court did not conduct an audit, then the Constitution should be torn up and thrown away.

He said even the audit of the army, atomic energy and NAB was done and asked if the Supreme Court was outside Pakistan.

“In America, China, India and Canada, all institutions, including the Supreme Court, are audited,” he said.

Questioning the absence of the registrar, he asked why he did not attend the committee meeting. “We are not calling anyone here for humiliation,” he said.

He said the principal accounting officer of the Supreme Court was the registrar and he was supposed to tell the committee about the accounts of Mohmand Dam and Diamer-Bhasha Dam.

“We have to ask whether the permission to open the accounts was taken. If the registrar had come, it would have been fine. We are sitting here for the supremacy of the Constitution not for fighting,” he remarked.

Noor Alam Khan said the apex court registrar sent two letters, stating that he could not attend the committee meeting.

Expressing his displeasure, Sheikh Rohail Asghar remarked, “The registrar should avoid choosing such words. He has forgotten that politicians never retire.”

The deputy registrar told the committee that he was there to respond to the questions.

The PAC chairman said in the last election, the chief justice asked them for details and they, along with the Election Commission, submitted the same.

“We respect the Supreme Court very much. I don’t know if there is any other law for you,” he said.

The deputy registrar said there was an impression that the Supreme Court was not audited, which was totally incorrect, as the apex court did its internal audit.

“There are no audit paras of the Supreme Court,” the deputy registrar told the committee.

Noor Alam asked the deputy registrar whether permission was taken while opening the dam fund accounts.

“Earlier, it was said that this fund will be audited and now it is being said that there would be no audit,” he said. He asked the secretary finance to tell the committee whether the Supreme Court had sought permission to open the dam fund account. The finance secretary said the dam fund account was opened in May 2018 and after that its name was changed three times.

He told the committee that the dam fund accounts were with the accountant general, while the supervision rested with the apex court registrar. He said according to the law, the Supreme Court could open an account.

Noor Alam said the deputy registrar’s presence proved that they recognized the committee but the letter written about the non-appearance of registrar spoke otherwise. “An arrogant tone has been adopted in the letter. I am of the opinion that we should take it [this letter] to the parliament and follow whatever decision comes from there,” he said.

He said Deputy Registrar Sher Afgan was heard because he had a clean past. Barjees Tahir suggested that if the registrar did not come to the committee, then not discussing the dam fund accounts amounted to ridiculing the committee.

However, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said it was not a good idea to send the letter to parliament, as the deputy registrar had represented the apex court. “I am satisfied with the conduct of the Supreme Court and deputy registrar,” he said, adding, “We don’t need to open more fronts”.

“We should say ‘Good to see you’ when the registrar comes and should also say the same to the deputy registrar, who is there to represent the registrar,” he said.

He suggested that no one should make it a matter of ego to appear before the committee.

“The presence of the deputy registrar proves that he has recognized the PAC, so we should avoid further confrontation,” he suggested.

The committee chairman said, “We have made sacrifices for the independence of the judiciary and even faced jails.”

Sheikh Rohail Asghar said everyone in the committee had two faces and two narratives and now praises were being showered on the Supreme Court. Saying this, he left the committee meeting in protest.

The law secretary said regular audit of the Supreme Court was being done and the audit was still going on and auditor general’s office was also looking into the objections.

Noor Alam said he did not want a confrontation with the Supreme Court adding that the registrar should appear before the committee and allow the auditor general’s office to conduct the audit.

“This is not our plea but according to the Constitution, I also have the authority to issue warrants for anyone,” he said.

The law secretary told the committee that as far as the matter of coming was concerned, the registrar should have attended the meeting.

Addressing the deputy registrar, the committee chairman said, “Please convey our message to the chief justice. The Supreme Court’s job is to interpret the law and ours is to legislate. We neither want any kind of favoritism nor do we want our disrespect.”

Noor Alam conducted voting and majority of the members favored giving last chance to the registrar for appearing before the committee.

The State Bank of Pakistan submitted the details of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dam Fund to the committee. As per the State Bank, the dams fund has a total of Rs17.71 billion and not even a single penny has been utilized.

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