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Nothing in the budget for the poor: CJ Iftikhar

10 June, 2011

Nothing in the budget for the poor: CJ Iftikhar
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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday called the board of directors of Harris Steel Mills in person at the next hearing and directed the Attorney General to submit a complete report regarding accountability courts in the Punjab. The court also sought instructions from the law ministry regarding the immunity of Punjab Governor Sardar Abdul Lateef Khosa.

A three-member bench of the apex court comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Tariq Pervaiz and Justice Amir Hani Muslim was hearing the Rs20 billion Bank of Punjab scam.

The statement of Punjab Governor Khosa was submitted on Thursday, stating that he had appeared in this case once before but Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar had misconstrued his statement. He further stated that he had not protested at his last appearance because had he filed a protest, it would be shameful for the judiciary. He further submitted that he appeared as the Attorney General and had never demanded that the case be transferred but had actually protested against that.

The chief justice observed that the allegations leveled by Khosa were very serious. “Those sitting on constitutional positions will face consequences if they lie in this court,” the CJ maintained. “This is not just about Justice (retd) Abdul Hameed Dogar but is a serious issue for the superior judiciary as a whole.”

The CJ asked for the recording of the case in 2008 but court employees submitted that proceedings were only recorded when ordered by the court.

The counsel for the Bank of Punjab, Khawaja Harris, submitted that during the last year, the bank had recovered Rs1.5 billion from 31 cases and cases had been registered against the defaulters. He further submitted that all records had been given to the inquiry committee.

The chief justice observed that a forensic audit was supposed to be done in the case. “People are still speaking on the basis of speculations. Even members of the Board of Directors of BoP have taken huge loans from the bank and if we find any dishonesty in that process, they should be ready for dire consequences,” the CJ maintained. “If the former president of the bank Hamesh Khan could be arrested from the United States, the BoDs could also be put behind bars. Why are such high-profile people so dishonest?”

Khawaja Haris submitted that the total value of the BoP was more then Rs80 billion and according to the report by Aftab Sultan, the scam was worth more than Rs76 billion. The chief justice asked why no action was taken if these allegations were really true.

“If they had conducted the forensic audit, a lot of hidden faces would be exposed in this scam,” the CJ maintained. “Even in the current budget, such items were given relaxation, which had no justification. The budget should have given some relief to the poor but there was nothing in the document for them. Those who think we are sitting in the courts and not aware of other issues are living in a fool’s paradise,” the CJ remarked.

Justice Tariq Pervaiz observed that when Sheikh Afzal was arrested, all the money was recovered. He further observed that the BoP scam involved Rs79 billion and should be taken seriously.

Khawaja Haris submitted that according to the report of Aftab Sultan, a director of BoP, Naveed Mughees, had taken a loan of Rs5 billion. Prosecutor General NAB Raja Amir submitted that this loan was taken for a textile mill but was used in the Phalia Sugar Mills owned by Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.

Chief Justice directed the Attorney General to take instructions from the law ministry and submit them before the court because the court was considering transferring the case to an accountability court, which would hear it in detail on a daily basis and after every three days submit findings to Justice Amir Hani Muslim. The SC adjourned the case till June 15.


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