ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed former federal minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid and Senator Zafar Ali Shah of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to become party in Railways rehabilitation case.
A two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry comprising Justice Shakirullah Jan heard the suo moto notice case of non-payment of pensions and salaries to the railways employees.
Chairman/Secretary Pakistan Railways Javed Ahmed submitted a report regarding payment of salaries and pensions to its employees and rehabilitation of the Railways Department.
He informed the court that from the next month the pensions would be paid to the former employees through banks and for that matter accounts have been opened in the banks close to their houses. He said a comprehensive plan has been chalked out for the rehabilitation of out-of-order locomotives. The authorities informed the court that they needed Rs 28 billion.
The chief justice dismissing the report remarked that with Rs 28 billion the new Railways Department could be established and they need that amount for the repair of the engines. He said Railways is the national asset of the country and they should make every effort to rehabilitate it.Sheikh Rashid informed the court that huge corruption has been made in selling of scrap, adding that big fish are involved in it. He said the Railways authorities with the connivance of high-ups got the rules relaxed to import engines from China.
He alleged that the corrupt officials of the Railways are responsible for its destruction. He said the deal with China on railway engines has not been cancelled. He apprised the bench that an agreement for importing 75 engines from China was signed in 2008, but could not be finalised due to litigation, adding the Railways paying Rs 175,000 daily to the Chinese company as rent.
The former minister said that if the Economic Coordination Committee would give its approval then nothing could happen. The Chief Justice said: “The apex court has power of judicial review. We would ask National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to look into this matter.”The CJP inquired from chairman Railways why the forensic audit of the Railway Department could have not been done. The chairman replied he has no authority to get this kind of audit.
The chief justice said someone in the government must have this authority, if you don’t have.He observed that Railways officials are only busy in talks but has not taken any practical step to repair the engines, adding due to non-serious attitude of the top management the Pakistan Railways has been destroyed.
Attorney General Maulvi Anwar-ul-Haq, who was asked in the last hearing to convene a meeting of high ups of the Railways department in order to formulate comprehensive strategy for making the department functional and submit the detail of it, informed the court that Director General Auditor General of Pakistan has pointed out Rs500 million corruption in the sale of scrape, and this matter is with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).The court directed the AGP to take complete information about corrupt officials of Pakistan Railways involved in selling out the railways scrap on throwaway prices and then send their cases to NAB. The hearing has been adjourned till November 23. – Nation