LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday expressed displeasure with the Punjab chief secretary for not submitting record of public sector companies and status of their heads working in the province.
Earlier, Chief Secretary Zahid Saeed appeared before the court and stated that the public sector companies did not fall in his domain. He also sought time to submit his written reply to the court’s queries.
At this, Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi observed how powerful the chief secretary was that he could not control secretaries of the government departments subordinate to him.
The judge further said the court had no personal interest to summon the chief secretary but compelled to summon since the advocate general office failed to submit the required record.
Challenging the jurisdiction of the high court, Additional Advocate General Shan Gull argued that details of the public sector companies and their heads could not be sought as protected under Article 212 of the Constitution.
This irked the judge further, who observed with regret that the law officers instead of complying with the order had been complaining to the chief justice against the court. However, AAG Gull expressed ignorance about the matter pointed out by the judge and sought two-week time to submit the details required by the court.
The law officer also asked the court to decide an application of the government challenging the maintainability of the petition filed by a lawyer.
Justice Naqvi observed that the court first wanted to know as to why the government was reluctant to submit details of the companies.
He said there was a beyond reason inconsistency between the salaries of the same grade officer working in the public sector companies and government departments.
The judge noted that there had been a tradition of establishing companies and burning their record in fire incidents.
“The court will protect taxpayers’ money at any cost,” the judge said.
The judge adjourned hearing till Oct 18 and directed the government to submit the details of the companies, their chief executive officers and salaries/perks being drawn by them.
A female lawyer had filed a petition challenging alleged corruption in Punjab Saaf Pani Company and the process for the appointment of manager (legal). The court had broadened the scope of the case by summoning details of all public sector companies working in the province.
Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2017