The public accounts committee is the most powerful body of the Parliament
An application against the appointment of former Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif as the Public Accounts Committee chairperson was dismissed on Tuesday.
The Islamabad High Court held the petition as unmaintainable. A two-judge bench, comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard the petition.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government was not willing for Shehbaz to assume the post of PAC chairperson. The tussle between the opposition and treasury benches lasted for four months. The PTI, however, conceded to the proposal on the condition that the PAC panels investigating the PML-N government’s irregularities will be headed by a member from the treasury.
Shehbaz Sharif is in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau in the Ashiana Housing Scheme case.
Advocate Riaz Haneef had filed the petition, pleading the court to disqualify the opposition leader in the National Assembly for the post of chairman PAC as NAB is holding an inquiry against him.
The court read out the ruling reserved last week on January 17 and discharged the case. “The petitioner, through his counsel, failed to convince the bench with his arguments. Therefore, the petition does not merit to be maintainable,” the court order said.
“Every accused is innocent until proven guilty,” said Justice Minallah. “We cannot rule on matters worthy to be looked into by the Parliament. And, you say the accused should be barred from taking part in parliamentary affairs. If ruled so, most of the lawmakers would no longer be part of the Parliament.”
Justice Mohsin remarked that it was the parliament that would see matters related to Saad Rafique and Shehbaz Sharif.
In an important move by the PTI-led government, the standoff over the PAC chief post fizzled out when on December 13 a government delegation called on Shehbaz Sharif and agreed to his appointment as the PAC chief. Federal railways minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, however, had announced to go to court against the decision.
The public accounts committee is the most powerful body of the Parliament that oversees the audit reports finalised by the department of the Auditor General of Pakistan. The committee invites ministers, permanent secretaries or other ministry officials for questioning.