Rana’s petition asserts that finance minister wants to replace Rana with a favourite officer over an audit involving billions of rupees paid to IPPs to clear circular debt
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday ordered the Finance Ministry led by Senator Ishaq Dar not to meddle in the constitutional and administrative powers of the Auditor General of Pakistan’s (AGP) office, as it took up for hearing the petition of AGP Akhtar Buland Rana, who had accused the finance minister of undue interference in the affairs of his office and hindering transparent audit of government accounts.
The court of Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi also ordered the Interior Ministry to provide security to the AGP as “he is facing life threats from government functionaries”.
THREATS TO AGP:
Rana’s counsel Saeed Khursheed alleged that Finance Minister Dar intends to replace the incumbent AGP with Farah Tareen, a grade 22 officer, currently working as controller general of accounts (CGA).
He cited the AGP’s audit of billions of rupees paid to the Independent Power Projects (IPPs) to clear the circular debt as the cause for Dar’s dislike for Rana. Khursheed said that the finance minister is determined to remove Rana before Tareen retires on August 13.
The AGP’s counsel argued that since the constitution does not allow the government to remove the AGP without moving the Supreme Judicial Council, the government has planned to either book the petitioner in a false case through police or the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) or to get him assassinated in order to pave the way for appointment of a blue-eyed officer as the AGP.
The counsel said that the AGP is a constitutional office and the Finance Ministry, secretary establishment and other institutions cannot interfere in his administrative matters. Monitoring of public money and preventing it from misuse is purely the domain of AGP, he added.
NO SECURITY FOR AGP:
When Justice Qureshi asked Additional Attorney General Tariq Khokhar why the government is not willing to provide security to the AGP, Khokhar replied that due to the country’s adverse law and order situation, security personnel are engaged elsewhere and it is not possible for the government to provide security to the AGP. The court demanded to know why the government is refusing security to the AGP who holds a constitutional post, reminding the AAG that even former dictator General (r) Pervez Musharraf’s government provided security to the former chief justice of Pakistan when he was kept under house arrest.
AGP BEING IMPLICATED IN ‘BOGUS CASES’:
The petitioner’s counsel told the court that a report was published in newspapers on behalf of the Ministry of Finance that the AGP has increased his own salary by exercising his powers. He added that Rana was also summoned before the Public Accounts Committee to explain his position.
“Enquiries are being conducted against AGP and a chargesheet has also been worked out against him. A notification has been issued by the government through which the AGP is being rendered powerless as the Finance Ministry wants to use the AGPR to serve its vested interests,” he said.
He questioned how corruption could be weeded out of the country if the government scraps out powers of a constitutional office such as that of the AGP and inducts favourites to the post.
Responding to the petitioner’s counsel, the government’s lawyer said that all allegations levelled by the petitioner are baseless.
The court issued notices to all the parties concerned and sought a reply from them within 15 days. The hearing of the case was then adjourned for an indefinite period.