ISLAMABAD: The role of sessions judges is being probed in connection with a multimillion rupees cash scam in the district courts of the federal capital, an audit report of Islamabad High Court (IHC) has revealed.
The audit report on accounts of IHC and district courts from Sept 9, 2015, to Sept 9, 2020, pointed out Rs10.8 million embezzlement from case sureties in the office of the senior civil judge (west), irregularities in deposit of Rs7 million cash sureties, failure of internal control leading to retention of cash sureties of Rs134 million and unauthorised collection of case sureties and shuffa worth Rs695 million.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah has directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to hold an inquiry into the charges of embezzlement of sureties etc., in the district and sessions courts.
Audit report points out millions of rupees irregularities in district courts of Islamabad
Furthermore, the district and sessions judge (west) and the senior civil judge (west) were directed to report on the matter and also fully cooperate with the FIA and make efforts to recover the embezzled sureties, cash from a former nazir (court treasurer) and any other persons held responsible.
The FIA submitted interim reports to the IHC, however, the inquiry into the bank accounts/assets of the alleged persons, especially the nazir, was in progress.
It has been disclosed that a nazir, Mohammad Riaz, continued to deal with financial matters even after his retirement.
The investigation agency, according to the audit report, “examined the role of each presiding officer” as those judges who were responsible have “failed to perform their duties of oversight, and the lack of supervision/reconciliation that led to the embezzlement.”
The audit was of the view that alongside FIA’s inquiry, departmental inquiry was required to be conducted for fixing responsibility and taking departmental action against persons responsible under the Efficiency and Discipline rules.
The Departmental Accounts Committee (DAC), comprising officials of the IHC, the auditor general office and the finance division, decided to club all the audit paras related to the financial irregularities.
It also decided to obtain the final investigation report from the FIA on the financial irregularities which will be shared with the auditors.
DAC also directed the FIA to conduct an inquiry into the alleged embezzlement, delayed deposit of sureties etc., from July 1, 2010, to Sept 30, 2015. It recommended “a fact finding committee be constituted by the district and sessions judge (west) to conduct an inquiry for all district courts to fix responsibility.”
The inquiry report on embezzlement, delay in deposit of sureties and for fixing responsibility be submitted to the IHC besides recommending action against the responsible officials.
The proceeding of the inquiry will be monitored by the additional registrar establishment of the IHC and the district and sessions judge (west).
Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2021