Committee chief may be fearing a backlash. Committee chief may be fearing a backlash. PHOTO: FILEISLAMABAD:
After creating a storm in a teacup, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday sought legal opinion from the Law Ministry for the second time on whether it could call the Supreme Court registrar for scrutiny of accounts.
“The members of the PAC are of the view that the committee should seek a fresh opinion from the law ministry,” PAC chairman Nadeem Afzal Chan said.
“PAC did not want to give the impression that it is in a dispute with the Supreme Court,” he added. The issue has been referred to the law ministry for the second time, as the ministry has already given its legal opinion, supporting the PAC’s stance to call any department, body or organisation that is funded by taxpayer money for scrutiny of accounts.
The move came after the Supreme Court of Pakistan questioned the authority of the PAC to scrutinise the apex court’s accounts.
The Supreme Court had written to the PAC that the accountability body’s mandate was limited to examining the accounts of the departments whose funds were approved by parliament. The apex court’s budget is termed “charged expenditures” where parliament can only debate, but cannot vote.
The office of the Auditor General of Pakistan has also supported the PAC’s stance to examine the apex court’s accounts. Akhtar Buland Rana, the Auditor General of Pakistan said that he upheld the views of his predecessor.
The additional secretary PAC, who is also a former judge, said that till 2006 the registrar of the Supreme Court used to appear before the PAC. He said in 2006 a full court decided that its registrar would not appear before the parliament’s top accountability body.
Chan said that the 2006 decision was not taken by the incumbent Chief Justice of Pakistan, hinting that the apex court had accepted a judgment of PCO chief justice Abdul Hameed Dogar.
However, Chan decided to remain silent when Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho raised the issue of non-appearance of the registrar of the Supreme Court in the PAC. She was speaking at the floor of the National Assembly on Tuesday.
In another development, the PAC also appealed to the employees of Accountant General of Pakistan Revenues (AGPR) to end their strike. The AGPR employees have been demanding either to withdraw double salaries to the employees of some selective departments or also extend the same to them, said AG Akhtar Buland Rana.
Rana said the finance ministry has rejected the summary to double the salaries of the AGPR employees.
The finance ministry restored enhanced salaries for the employees of FBR in May when they went on strike, although FBR has missed their tax targets by a wide margin, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2012.