The Supreme Court on Saturday ordered that an audit of Pakistan Railways under the PML-N government be completed in the next six weeks.
The orders were issued during the hearing of a suo motu case regarding the Rs60 billion worth of losses incurred in the Railways department.
During the first part of the hearing, which was conducted at SC's Lahore registry, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar expressed dissatisfaction at the absence of Minister of Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique. "Who gave him exemption from appearing in court," the CJP asked.
The hearing resumed once Rafique came to court.
"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.
Earlier this month, Justice Nisar had taken suo motu notice of losses amounting to Rs60bn that have been incurred by Pakistan Railways.
Justice Nisar had earlier cited the example of Indian politician Lalu Prasad Yadav, saying that though Yadav had been deprived of formal education, he had turned Indian Railways into a profitable institution while he was minister.
"Lalu Prasad's work is taught at Harvard University today," the CJP had remarked, while complaining that Pakistan Railways was portrayed as a profitable organisation at political rallies, but "the reality of the railways is different".
Pakistan Railways had told the National Assembly last month that it had suffered a loss of Rs20.6bn between July 2017 and January 2018.
In a written reply to a question from MNA Shaikh Rohale Asghar about the daily losses being suffered by PR, Railways had responded saying that losses multiplied after July 2017 from Rs403.4 million (total daily losses per month) to nearly Rs3bn in August 2017.
They rose to Rs3.41bn two months later in October 2017 and then to Rs4.3bn in December 2017, PR said in response to the question.
“In January 2018, the losses were as high as Rs3.2bn,” PR said.