JUN 30, 2018: Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Saturday remarked that consensus had been reached between all stockholders to immediately build two dams using monies to be recovered from bank loan defaulters in view of the chronic water crisis in the country.
Justice Nisar made the comments during the hearing of a case initiated in 2008 after the Supreme Court (SC) took suo motu notice of media reports that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) had approved a scheme to allow writing off of loans worth Rs54 billion owed to commercial banks by several companies and individuals.
The scheme was approved in October 2002 for writing off loans owed to commercial banks by business concerns run by some top politicians and other people.
Based on a secret report submitted by SBP to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly then, some 50,000 people including politicians, civil and military business concerns and business tycoons had been favored through the scheme and their outstanding loans had been written off.
The report had accused the then chief ministers of two provinces as being beneficiaries of the scheme because their families having big business concerns like sugar mills and ghee mills also got a waiver on outstanding loans. Even some foreign firms and multinational companies and a private bus service operating from Lahore to different cities of Punjab were also extended this facility.
“The water shortage is such a serious matter,” Justice Nisar remarked during the hearing. “I will have some good news regarding this very soon.”
The Chief Justice informed the litigants that the amount to be recovered from the loan defaulters would be used to construct new dams immediately.
He added that the consensus had been evolved during a meeting with experts and various stakeholders earlier this week on building the dams.
The CJP stated that some of the defaulters had expressed willingness to pay 75 per cent of the written-off loan amount, whereas cases of not returning the amount will be referred to banking courts.
However, the chief justice warned that if banking courts issued a verdict against the companies, they would have to pay the full amount of their loans. He further said that the parties which failed to repay their loans could also go to jail for as long as one year.
At this point, several lawyers representing different companies named in the case urged the CJ not to forward the issue to banking courts. Justice Nisar then ordered the petitioners to submit written recommendations regarding how to proceed with the case and adjourned further hearing till July 4.
On previous hearing, Chief Justice warned the loan waivers to get ready for consequences if they failed to pay off public money. “If we fail to bring back the nation’s wealth, then we do not deserve to occupy this office”, Mian Saqib Nisar was quoted as saying.