PAC orders audit of SC accounts

Seeks report on salaries, perks and privileges of judges by 30th

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The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday ordered the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) Muhammad Ajmal Gondal to audit the Supreme Court’s budget and submit a comprehensive report on salaries, perks and privileges, and plots allotted to judges of the apex court.

PAC Chairman Noor Alam Khan directed the AGP to submit the report by March 30, saying the matter has already been delayed a lot and no further time would be given. The PAC chairman’s direction came after he recalled that the AGP has not yet submitted the report about the apex court’s audit despite the committee’s earlier directions.

“We don’t even know how much salary the judges are drawing,” Noor said, reminding Gondal that the accountability forum of the parliament was still awaiting a response in this regard.

“AGP sahib, the Public Accounts Committee wants to ask where and how much public and government money is being spent, how much salary is being given [to the judges], and what perks and privileges are being given to them,” he inquired.

“I have repeatedly asked for these details,” Noor continued, adding, “give details about each judge and how many plots have they been given; you have to submit the report to us and we won’t allow any further delay in it.”

Amid talks about provincial elections and snap polls, Noor expressed hope that the government would complete its tenure.

Before setting March 30 as the deadline for the submission of the report, Noor, while hearing murmurs about ordering the audit of the top court, said that someone has to do it so “I am starting this audit”.

He then formally dictated that the “Public Accounts Committee gives direction that the audit of Supreme Court should be carried out”.

The directions about the Supreme Court’s audit came during the PAC meeting called to review the audit paragraphs of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). It emerged during the meeting that FBR was reluctant to give the AGP office access to its data for audit citing security concerns, saying it was ready to give data to AGP in a compact disk (CD).

On security concerns, PML-N’s Shaikh Rohale Asghar reminded the committee that FBR’s data was hacked not so long ago. MNA Malik Mukhtar Ahmad added that FBR’s data was not only hacked but it was sold on the dark web for $10,000, saying the hacking took place because FBR was using pirated software.