ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court issued notices on Monday to the Auditor General, Accountant General Pakistan Revenues (AGPR) and a senior officer of the finance ministry to inform it about the bookkeeping and auditing of the Rs62 billion Universal Services Fund (USF) since its transfer to the federal consolidated fund (FCF) from the ministry of information technology.

Their representatives have to appear on Tuesday before a three-judge bench headed by Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja that is hearing a petition of an IT and telecommunication expert, Khurram Shehzad Chughtai, who had sought directives for an urgent auctioning of third generation (3G) spectrum licences in the telecom sector.

The IT ministry told the court on Aug 1 last year that the amount in the USF had been transferred to the FCF of the finance ministry under a decision of the Economic Coordination Committee after making necessary amendments to the USF Rules of 2006. The Universal Services Fund had been set up for providing telecommunication services to people living in un-served and under-served areas. The court was informed on Monday that the auction of 3G and 4G licences had been postponed till April 23 from April 7.

USF Finance Manager Kamran Masood said that while Rs5.6bn interest had been earned on the fund in 2012-13, the earning had stopped after the transfer of the fund.

Attorney General Salman Aslam Butt said the fundamental question was whether the money in the USF could be transferred to the FCF.

The court noted that the investment could have yielded a higher return.

Islamabad courts attack

While hearing a suo motu case about the March 8 attack on the Islamabad district courts, a bench headed by Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani observed that the incident reflected failure of the state to provide protection and security to the citizens.

The court ordered the interior ministry to ensure provision of the best available medical care to the injured on state expense. It also instructed the government to make arrangements to shift Advocate Rai Azhar, currently admitted to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, to the Combined Military Hospital or a private hospital in the federal capital where facilities for plastic surgery were available.

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