SC orders SBP to consult ex-judge to head loan recovery commission

The Supreme Court on Friday directed the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor to consult Justice (r) Jamshed Ali Shah, seeking his consent to head a three-member commission being set up to recover bank loans, after Justice (r) Saleem Akhtar refused to grant the SBP’s request to head the commission.

Supreme Court (SP) of PakistanISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor to consult Justice (r) Jamshed Ali Shah, seeking his consent to head a three-member commission being set up to recover bank loans, after Justice (r) Saleem Akhtar refused to grant the SBP’s request to head the commission.

The two-member apex court bench, comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Justice Ghulam Rabbani, resumed hearing of a suo motu case related to Rs 256 billion bank loans waived off from 1971 to 2009. The bench in its order said that in case the retired judge was willing to accept the assignment, he should be nominated as such and it be intimated to the court.

At the outset of proceedings, the CJP told Additional Attorney General, KK Agha, that Justice (r) Saleem Akhtar tipped earlier off to head the commission, refused due to certain reasons. He said the SBP should ask a man of integrity and probably Justice (r) Jamshed, who was also heading a salvage committee in the Bank of Punjab case and having banking matters experience, could be approached.

To KK Agha’s remark, he replied that advertisement for setting up the commission and inviting concerned parties’ reservations could not be possibly floated due to nomination of chairman. Further hearing was adjourned till April 25.

On March 14, the SBP had submitted the proposals and recommendations seeking its approval for formation of a commission to recover bank written-off loans.

The proposed names included Saleem Akhtar, retired judge of the apex Court, and Rashid A Chughtai and Yousaf Adil as its members. According to SBP proposals, the commission would submit its interim report within 90 days after becoming functional.

According to the recommendations, the court was prayed to confer powers on the commission and functions under the Pakistan Commission of Inquiries Act 1956. The report submitted by the SBP counsel said that the commission would examine and confirm validity of about 1,300 written-off loan cases from 1997 exceeding Rs 10 billion by 10 banks. It would also determine whether the loans were waived off on commercial reasons or political grounds.

The commission could direct the concerned bank to initiate appropriate proceedings in courts for recovery of written-off loans under the Financial Institution (Recovery of Finances) Ordinance 2001 or the NAB Ordinance.

In its order, the bench had, after hearing suggestions, directed that these recommendations and terms of reference should be published in English/Urdu newspapers through the SBP within four days and its cost be borne by the banks. The bench noted that if any borrower or customer had any reservations over it or any information, he could appear in the court on next date of hearing. staff report/app – Dailytimes