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SC ordered complete audit of Pakistan Railways

15 April, 2018

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LAHORE: The Supreme Court, while hearing a suo motu case regarding Rs 60 billion losses suffered by the Pakistan Railways, on Saturday ordered complete audit of the accounts of the national institution.

Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique appeared before a two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar here at the Lahore registry. The court had issued summons to the minister on the last hearing on April 07, directing him to appear in person and explain the situation in his ministry.

During the court proceedings, the CJP reprimanded the minister for his statements defending his department. The CJP observed that the time when courts were ignored had passed. “You should have seen what your body language was like. If you don’t respect the institutions, no one will respect you,” the CJP told the minister.

The minister said that the statements made by him at different instances were against his political opponents. “There is a misunderstanding which I want to clear,” he said, and told the court he was at the hearing not for a political speech but to show the work Pakistan Railways was doing. However, he was told to stay quiet until given permission, upon which he said he would leave the court if the CJP did not want to hear him. “I am well aware of your intentions for coming to the hearing. You may leave if you wish, after which we will proceed with contempt of court against you,” the chief justice replied.

The chief justice then summoned Khawaja Saad Rafique to the rostrum and asked him to apprise the court of the amount of loss Pakistan Railways had incurred. The minister said that the revenue of Pakistan Railways was Rs 50 billion, with a deficit of Rs 35 billion. “There are many reasons behind the losses. If you conduct an audit, you will become content with our performance,” he said, adding that there will be visible improvement in the department in the next 12 years. To which the CJP remarked, “Should the court allow you to continue without contesting elections for the next 12 years?”

The CJP also asked the railways minister about the number of train accidents that have taken place during his tenure.

In reference to the army train accident in which 17 soldiers were martyred, the minister said that the cause of the accident was over-speeding. However, the CJP remarked that the minister had placed all the responsibility of the accident on the driver.

Speaking to media outside the court, the railways minister said he had always made efforts for the betterment of railways. “I improved the condition of passenger trains and fired no permanent employees,” he said, adding that he is waiting for someone to show up and do better work than him.

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