CJ orders arrest of corrupt PR officials

Chief Justice Iftikhar ChaudhryISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to arrest the people responsible for corruption in Railways within three days.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry was hearing a case on the state of affairs in Pakistan Railways, including non-payment of pensions and salaries to the staff, on Tuesday.The chief justice said it was the NAB’s job to eliminate corruption and not to enter into plea bargain.He said the NAB was arresting only poor people, while the employees in the department had no interest in serving the country, adding that if the NAB had the courage to arrest the influential, it could achieve the target within three days.

The Railways officials said operation was going on in the Malir area of Karachi to vacate the land. They further said they could not start any goods train so far due to shortage of engineers.Staff Reporter adds: The Supreme Court dismissed Pakistan Railways performance report and directed its chairman to submit a comprehensive report containing the court directives, compliance and the achievements of the department.The court was annoyed over the transfer of Railways Board Secretary Shafiqullah, as the chief justice told Railways Chairman Arif Azeem that from the very beginning, Shafiqullah had been assisting in the matter and the court was satisfied with him.

The chief justice said Shafiqullah was transferred in order to keep him away from the court and the NAB.Justice Tariq Pervaiz remarked the bureaucracy had been made subservient to the politicians and honest officials were not allowed to work independently.The Railways chairman promised to restore Shafiqullah to his old post so that he could appear before court in the case.NAB Additional Prosecutor General (ADG) Akbar Tarar informed the court that eight cases had been under inquiry against the Railways officials involved in corruption. “We have arrested Railways chief controller who is on judicial remand,” he said.

The court noted that corruption in Railways had crossed all the limits as most of the trains were not operational, while the NAB was only examining the scrape issue.The chief justice said the NAB chairman should know that the apex court was vigorously following the cases, adding that the persons at the helm of affairs should be held responsible.He asked the ADG: “Why you have not arrested the high officials involved in corruption in Pakistan Railways.”Tarar replied prima facie the senior management of Railways was part of the corruption, adding, “We would not spare anyone.”

The chief justice said the Railways’ chairman and minister’s names had been mentioned in the case, but no action was initiated against them. He remarked that it was very difficult to get jobs, adding, “Don’t think we are unaware.”“If you wanted to save the country take action across the board,” he said, adding that try to understand what they were saying.He asked the NAB official that change was possible if he worked sincerely.

Railways Chairman Arif Azeem informed the court that 1,300 acres of land was categorised as strategic forest region, while another 490 acres of land was in the control of Rangers, adding that the land under army and the Rangers was located near the border areas.He said they had recovered 700 acres of land in five months and removed the plazas in Karachi on the court orders. He said common people were using 1,700 acres were residential purposes, while the land in the control of government departments was around 400 to 500 acres.

On the other hand, the Railways Director Land said they had leased out 14,000 acres.Former minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid informed the court the department owned 1,87,000 acres of land in total, out of which 37,000 acres were agriculture land in Multan, Lodharan and Rahim Yar Khan. He said the Railways would not need any government funding, if opted to sell some plots in Karachi.

Azeem said they decided to conduct an internal audit, to which the chief justice replied that the Railways would sink given the pace they were pursuing the objective, while Justice Tariq said internal audit was no audit.About the constitution of the Railways Board, the chairman said: “We are in a position to notify the board and majority of its members are from the private sector.”The chairman said 78 passenger trains (against 242 in the past) and eight freight trains were currently operational.Later, the court adjourned the hearing till March 16. – – Nation