LAHORE: A two-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Sunday conducted hearing of the cases pertaining to Saaf Pani Company and recruitment at 56 public organizations in the apex court’s Lahore Registry.
During the proceedings, Punjab Chief Secretary confirmed that Rs4 billion have been spent on the clean drinking water project so far but not a single drop of clean water was available for the citizens.
While giving his remarks, Justice Saqib Nisar said that all heads of Punjab Companies including Saaf Pani Company should only get salary from their official job, not from their companies and they should return the already received double salary as well.
He maintained that no approach or bribery would work, adding that this is the money of the nation and it would be returned to the national exchequer.
The chief secretary told the court that so far Rs4 billion had been spent on Punjab Saaf Pani Company (PSPC), set up with an aim to ensure supply of potable water to the people, but not a single drop of water could be supplied.
Justice Nisar expressed displeasure over the authorities, saying so much money was squandered on the advertisement campaign, but the project couldn’t be completed.
The chief justice observed that everyone will be held accountable and every penny of the national exchequer will be returned to the national kitty.
Chief Justice Nisar, referring to the hiring of individuals from the private sector as well as foreign experts in the public organization, remarked that those who made these hiring will have to return the money from their own pocket.
The court ruled that all the companies’ officers will get the same salaries as government officials at the same scale.
The chief secretary said that “citizens did not get a drop of water despite spending of Rs4 billion on the project” and added that instead of improving, the performance of the company came down.
Questioning the inclusion of provincial minister Zaeem Qadri’s brother and wife in the company’s board of directors, Chief Justice Nisar remarked, “So much was spent on public advertisements but nothing was done on the ground.”
The company’s former CEO Waseem Ajmal appeared before the apex court and said that the Punjab chief minister directed the replacement of local experts with foreigners.
“The provincial chief executive was not even legally permitted to give directions to the company,” he added.
The chief justice asked CEO Muhammad Usman if there was no one eligible enough in the country that the company had to hire foreign consultants for the provision of water.
Punjab Advocate General Shakilur Rehman Khan had requested the bench for time for preparing detailed and comprehensive reports on the company and its performance.
The chief justice asked the CEO about his salary, to which he said that he was getting Rs1.4 million per month including all perks and privileges.
Questioning the non-utilisation of government officers for the post, the chief justice had wondered why taxpayers’ money is being wasted.
The court has summoned the National Accountability Bureau’s prosecutor general on April 14 to look into the case.