On Monday, the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) urged authorities to present the financial details of Justice Mazahar Naqvi, a Supreme Court (SC) judge, within 15 days.
The PAC overseeing public spending was tasked with dealing with Justice Mazahar Naqvi case, which is being accused of putting his funds beyond the means in the National Assembly last week.
The decision was taken on the demands of PML-N’s head and Federal Minister, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, during the National Assembly’s session on May 4 and the order to submit the report in 15 working days.
The PML-N leader had brought up the issue in a question of procedure during the question hour as lawmakers continued to attack superior court judges in the wake of the ongoing dispute between the executive judiciary regarding the election of members of the Punjab Assembly.
Four cases are pending against Justice Naqvi in the Supreme Judicial Council in which he is charged with “misconduct”, “misuse of authority”, and retaining assets outside of the known sources of his income.
The complaint contained a few audio recordings, including the one that shows a conversation with the judge and former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi. He argued that the nature of the conversation indicated the intimate and personal connection between them.
Instructed The Federal Board of Revenue
At the PAC meeting on Tuesday, PTI dissident Noor Alam Khan who chairs the PAC committee took on the case of Justice Naqvi. He instructed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to provide information about the judge’s income tax returns and assets.
The judge also wanted details on the plots held by Justice Naqvi, his travel, his background, records of wealth assessment as well as information about the judge’s family members.
Alam granted all officials 15 days to provide the above information to the committee.
In addition, it was noted that the PAC chairman was also aware of the absences of officials from the government, like provincial secretaries, during today’s meeting. He warned them that warrants could be issued to them in the event of their absence from meetings.
PAC is divided over the appeal against the SC judge
A few days earlier, Dawn had reported that the PAC was divided on taking the case and bringing it to trial to Justice Naqvi.
A few PAC members have stated that they believed that the SC judge’s matter was not in the realm of PAC and that if the government had evidence against the judge, it must appropriately make a reference before the SJC.
The PML-N senator stated that the government shouldn’t repeat the same error made in the past PTI administration, which had made the same reference to Justice Qazi Faiz Isa and resulted in a backfire. The senator said the government should comply with the Constitution instead of creating new precedents and ignoring the law.
In the same way, similarly, Dr Ramesh Kumar from the PTI claimed that he had talked about the issue with a few PAC members, and some members considered that tackling individual cases was not within their realm of responsibility. However, he said many members in the 28-member PAC believed they could consider taking up the issue since it was connected to the financial benefits judges could avail from an exchequer national.
Dr Kumar stated that if there are any misdeeds on the returns of a Judge, the FBR must inform the cabinet, who can then recommend a formal motion for an appeal against the judge to the SJC.
Senator Saleem Mandviwala, a member of the PPP, also stated that it was not within the sphere that the PAC investigated individual instances. The role of the PAC, as per Mandviwala, was only to review audit reports provided through the audit general in Pakistan.