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July 22, 2020

Won’t let anyone steal money: Supreme Court

Top Story

July 22, 2020

Won’t let anyone steal money: Supreme Court

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Tuesday questioned transparency in the mode of expenditure of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) while dealing with COVID-19 and locusts and said it would not allow anyone to steal money.

This observation from the apex court came during the hearing of corona suo motu case by a five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed.

The chief justice observed that the NDMA was dealing with floods, locusts as well as importing machinery for preparing medical kits like N-95 masks, etc, but no documentary proof had been submitted to the court despite repeated directions. “We have sought details from the NDMA three times but we are yet to be provided with details,” the CJP remarked.

“You have received billions of rupees of funding from donor agencies but how you are utilising it, we don’t know,” the CJP told the NDMA representative.

The chief justice observed that it was due to rampant corruption that Pakistan was called the most corrupt country in the world.

The CJP recalled that they had passed orders seeking reports from the NDMA but these were not being complied with.

“Should we issue a contempt of court notice to the NDMA or ask the prime minister to remove the organization head?” the CJP asked the official adding that every aspect of the matter should be ensured in a transparent manner and nobody should be given a specific favor.

He noted that Rs10,725,000 was given in cash to a company, VisionAir, in lieu of chartering a plane adding that as per agreement, the money was to be paid in dollars and online but the payment was made in cash.

The chief justice further said the company was even not a beneficiary adding that the NDMA was favoring one company. Justice Ijazul Ahsen observed that the NDMA had been given a free hand but “we are concerned only to the extent of utilizing the funding in a transparent manner so that the image of the country should not tarnish abroad.

The chief justice noted with concern that the documents submitted by the NDMA were totally contradicting its claim in the report adding that the organization does not know how to proceed with the court’s order and how to submit report before it.

Attorney General Khalid Javed submitted that a notice be issued to the said party. The chief justice also asked for documents permitting the import of machinery from Al-Hafeez Crystoplast (Pvt) Ltd.

“Why court order was not complied with by submitting the said documents despite our repeated three orders?” the CJP inquired adding that who was the owner of the company and was yet to appear before the court.

Justice Ijazul Ahsen asked as to who had paid for the machinery imported from China and asked why the details of chartering the plane and its payments were not being submitted. Director Admin NDMA, however, submitted that the Authority did not import machines from Al-Hafeez Company.

The CJP recalled that the NDMA was also to import some vaccine and asked where were documents for its import. Meanwhile, Attorney General Khalid Javed told the court that the report submitted by the NDMA did not contain true material in respect of the matter of COVID-19 as well as other matters adding that a comprehensive report would be submitted by the chairman NDMA as well as documents to the court in order to support its report.

The court then directed Al-Hafeez Company to file a detailed report within two weeks. The court also expressed dissatisfaction over the report submitted by the Drug Regulatory Authority (DRAP) pertaining to medicine and life saving drugs that are allowed to be imported from abroad and which are unregistered.

The court directed the Authority to submit a comprehensive report in this regard within two weeks. The court also took exception to the mode of work being carried out by the National Health Services Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC).

Additional Secretary NHSRC when told the court that the secretary had written letters to the provinces and their response were awaited, the CJP remarked that writing letters does not solve issues and one should not write letters and then go home and sleep.

“We don’t want documents and letters but we want practical measures should be taken at the earliest. “What you work; it’s like Baboos,” the CJP told the additional secretary.

“Your job is not to write letters only but you are required to do follow-up and monitor the things sincerely,” Justice Ijazul Ahsen told the official. Meanwhile, the court directed the secretary Ministry of NHSRC to file a comprehensive report on the pricing of life saving drugs and dealing with the COVID-19 and it should be filed within two weeks.

Advocate General Sindh Salman Talibuddin while appearing on the video link from Karachi Registry expressed embarrassment for not filing the report in pursuance of the last order of the court and assured that he would do the needful before the next date of hearing.

The court also directed Punjab to submit a comprehensive report on the vehicles provided by the donor agencies as well as vehicles available with other departments and it should be submitted within two weeks.

When the court took up the matter of fake licenses of pilots as well as their fake educational credentials, DG Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), MD Pakistan International Airlines as well as CEOs of Air Blue, Serene Air, and Shaheen Airlines appeared before the court and filed their respective reports.

The court expressed dissatisfaction with their reports as well as their submission before it. The court in its order noted down that the Civil Aviation Authority was in a shambles and directed the DG CAA to take a strict action against those who were responsible for issuing fake licenses to the pilots and deal with such pilots strictly and in accordance with law.

The court further directed the DG CAA that he should not only initiate departmental inquiry in the matter, but also ensure filing of criminal cases against these people. The court further noted down in its order that the report of PIA does not give complete picture and directed its MD to file a comprehensive report within two weeks stating as to what action he had taken so far against the persons involved in malpractices.

The court expected that all the organizations would submit a positive report while dealing with their respective staff. Earlier, Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed observed that airports were the places through which all evils enter the country.

When director general CAA begun to state that they had started a reform process, the CJP interrupted him asking if he knew that he was doing work like Baboos. “You are not fit for this job and you should be removed at the earliest, as your whole staff is compromised,” the CJP told the DG CAA.

“You should be ashamed of yourself as you have played havoc with the lives of people although you were required to save the lives of people and dear ones and you did not even take action against a single person so far”, the CJP told the DG CAA.

“These people involved in heinous crimes are still drawing their salaries and you have only suspended them,” he remarked. The DG CAA, however, submitted that out of 262 pilots identified, they had taken action against 189 while suspending licenses of 28 pilots.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked the official what action had been taken against the persons posted in the computer section as well as other staff. “The Karachi crash occurred on May 22 and today is July 21 but you have so far worked by writing letters. The pilot of the plane that crashed on May 22 in Karachi was issued a license in 1990. Instead of caring for 300 passengers on board, the pilots were busy discussing the corona issues before the crash,” Justice Bandial observed.

“How you sleep at night? You should work, work, and work and give better results and provide best services to the customers,” the CJP asked the MD PIA. “There was a time when Hollywood actors would travel by PIA and feel pride but today it is sad to tell where it stands,” the CJP remarked. Later the court adjourned the hearing for two weeks.