SC seeks railways audit report in six weeks

F.P. Report

LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Saturday ordered the authorities concerned to submit a report on audited accounts of the loss-making Pakistan Railways within six weeks’ time.

A two-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, gave this order during hearing of a case pertaining to the colossal losses of Rs60 billion incurred by the railways.

Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, who appeared before the bench in response to court summons.

“We are ordering an audit of Pakistan Railways,” the chief justice said, to which the minister responded that the audit should comprise the performance of the past 10 years, “so that the court could gauge the difference between the performance of the past government and the present.”

“Audits are only conducted of the performance of those who are in power,” the CJP replied while clarifying that the probe would span the last five years.

“We have tried very hard to reform the railways’ system of this country [so] two lines of praise from the court will help our morale,” Rafique remarked.

“There will be time for praise if the audit report is satisfactory,” Justice Nisar responded.

Separately, the apex court set a 15-day deadline for the Punjab police chief to arrest the key suspect behind the murder of journalist Zeeshan Butt in Sialkot.

IG Punjab Arif Nawaz informed the bench that the main suspect is still at large.

Zeeshan Butt, who was associated with a Lahore-based newspaper, was allegedly killed by a union council chairman of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) within the jurisdiction of Begowala police station on March 27.

Suspect Begowala Union Council Chairman Aslam Cheema has been at large since the registration of a murder case against him.

During the course of previous hearing, the IG pleaded for a week’s time to bring the culprit involved in the murder of the journalist to justice.

The bench turned down his plea for more time and directed him to ensure the arrest within four days.

The chief justice came down hard on the police chief over failure of the police department to arrest the killer, asking him if he was associated with any political party.

Upon the question, the IG replied that the accused was affiliated with the ruling PML-N.

To a query, he informed that the suspect’s name had already been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL).