Chief Justice of Supreme Court Orders ‘Independent Forensic Audit’ of Pakistan Railways

The Pakistan Railways annual earning has increased from Rs18 billion some five years ago to Rs50 billion though the losses also rose from Rs30bn to around Rs35bn annually.

(DESPARDES/PKONWEB) — The Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered an independent forensic audit of Pakistan Railways during the suo motu hearing in Lahore on Rs60 billion (US$545 million) losses due to alleged corruption and mismanagement in the state-run railways.

During the court proceedings, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar queried the Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique on the recurring losses. Mr. Rafique was present in the courtroom on apex court’s earlier directive.

The minister shared with the 2-member bench comprising CJP Nisar and Justice Ejazul Ahsan that the revenue of railways department was Rs50 billion with a deficit of Rs35 billion. “There are many reasons behind the losses. If you conduct an audit then you will become content with our performance,” he told the court.

The railways minister also added that there will be visible improvement in the department in the next 12 years. Over which, the Chief Justice remarked: “Should the court then allow you to continue your appointment without contesting elections for the next 12 years?”

The Railways annual earning has increased from Rs18 billion some five years ago to Rs50 billion though the losses also rose from Rs30bn to around Rs35bn annually.

Talking to the media, the minister said that when he became the minister for railways, it was in a heavy debt, but he worked hard to make sure it was not the case anymore.

He also emphasized that during his tenure not only had he helped in saving the railways from being privatized when every other intuition was, he had also worked towards modernizing it.

He also mentioned how he does not practice nepotism in his department like the other MNAs and MPAs.

Rafique added that things cannot change in an instance, as it takes time for things to take a turn. It can take another 10 to 12 years before things get completely stabilized for the railways.

During the hearing CJP Nisar told Saad Rafique that judges of the Supreme Court were not prejudiced against anyone, but were only establishing the rule of law.

“We have no prejudice as your friends have been saying nowadays. We are only establishing the rule of law, which is causing some problems for them,” he added.

The CJP observed that the time when institutions were disrespected has passed.

On April 7, the top judge had taken suo motu notice of alleged Rs60 billion corruption in the Pakistan Railways. The top judge had also summoned railways minister, secretary and board members along with the audit report.

He had observed that Indian former railways minister Lalu Prasad was not well-educated yet he made the Indian Railways very profitable. “Today, the reforms brought about by Lalu Prasad are being taught at Harvard University,” he added.

On the other hand, in Pakistan, the railways is only said to be profitable only in rallies. “But the claims are far from reality,” he remarked.

“For how long will you run the railways with bailout packages from the government?,” Justice Nisar asked Railways Secretary Parveen Agha who shared statistics of the annual revenue and losses from 2012 to 2018.

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