Shahbaz as PAC chief: IHC reserves ruling on petition’s maintainability

January 01, 2019

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Petition was filed against Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif's appointment as PAC chairman. — File photo
Petition was filed against Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif's appointment as PAC chairman. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Monday reserved its decision on the maintainability of a petition filed against the appointment of Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

“Let’s have confidence in parliament and wait for our orders,” was the closing remarks of IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah before a division bench comprising Justice Minallah and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani reserved the decision.

A lawyer, Riaz Hanif Rahi, through Advocate G. M. Chaudhry filed the petition seeking an order against Mr Sharif’s appointment as chairman of the PAC, the country’s apex accountability forum.

The petitioner challenged the vires of Rule 108 of the Rules of Business and Procedure of the National Assembly under which the NA speaker can issue a production order for an under-custody lawmaker.

Justice Minallah remarked that parliament was the supreme and most sacred institution and asked the petitioner what caused him to file the petition against parliamentary proceedings.

“What is your grievance in this matter?” asked the bench.

The petitioner, however, could not give any plausible answer to the court. Instead, he referred to the judgements of the Supreme Court in which the apex court dealt with the powers of the prime minister and the federal cabinet.

At one stage, Justice Minallah remi­nded the petitioner that parliament represented 220 million Pakistanis and the petitioner might approach the National Assembly’s member of his constituency to raise this issue in parliament. The IHC chief justice pointed out that parliament had framed the rules for its smooth functioning and the high court could not interfere in its domain.

Shahbaz chairs PAC meeting

The under-custody chairman of the Public Accounts Committee presided over a meeting of the PAC in the Parliament House.

The PAC was supposed to receive a briefing by NAB on pending inquiries on Tuesday (today).

Shahbaz Sharif, however, deferred the NAB’s briefing, saying that since the Ministry of Water and Power had already been scheduled for Tuesday to give presentation to the committee, it would be tantamount to overburdening if NAB was asked to brief the committee on the same day.

During Monday’s meeting, Director General Audit Shiraz Manzoor Haider briefed the committee on the functioning and performance of the Auditor General of Pakistan.

He told the committee that there were 18,043 audit paras pending since 2010. He said that from 2008 to 2011, the PAC, headed by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, had cleared 10 audit reports and regularised Rs170.8 billion.

The PAC during the previous regime was led by Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah and it scrutinised eight audit reports and regularised an amount of Rs355bn.

Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2019