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IHC

HEC: Audit of Rs. 40B funds

ISLAMABAD: IHC, in its detailed judgement stated that Chairman HEC Tariq Javed Banuri was removed because he was demanding audit of Rs. 50 billion given to Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman’s related entities.  

According to the detailed judgement of the division bench, comprised of IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamer Farooq: “Perusal of the record shows that the Court cannot turn a blind eye regarding a crucial fact which is definitely relevant in order to adjudicate upon the questions raised before us.

“The role of the chairman PM’s Task Force was significant in the entire process. It has become obvious from the record that he appears to have been affected by the policies of the HEC and the resistance is affirmed from the correspondence…

“The factor of conflict of interest should have been taken into consideration by the policy making executive authorities…

“HEC had formulated a policy regarding audit and scrutiny relating to performance evaluation of those institutions which had received public funds.

“Amongst the institutions that had received major funding included those of which the chairman PM’s Task Force was a patron e.g. the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences…

“Record placed before us shows that substantial funding from the exchequer, almost Rs.40 billion, was received by the entities wherein the chairman of the PM’s Task Force had an interest.

“It also appears from the record that the latter and the defunct chairperson were at loggerheads over the stated policy. The performance evaluation and audit by the HEC of the institutions of which the chairman PM’s Task Force was a patron was being resisted…

“The chairman PM’s Task Force attempted to defend and justify the performance of the institutions in which he had an interest through publishing articles in daily newspapers authored by him…

“The record manifests his pivotal role in the deliberations and proposals which had ultimately led to the issuance of the impugned notifications and removal of the defunct chairperson, the court order stated, adding the question of conflict of interest, thus, was crucial for adjudication of the petition.”

The Bench that had set aside the termination of Dr. Tariq Javed Banuri held:  “We cannot turn a blind eye to the factor of conflict of interest of the chairman, PM’s Task Force, as is evident from the material placed before us.

“We expect that the controlling authority i.e. the worthy prime minister will ensure that the HEC undertakes an independent, transparent and fair audit and evaluation of the institutes/centers wherein the chairman PM’s Task Force has an interest and which have received substantial funding from the public exchequer.

“It is important for the controlling authority i.e. the worthy Prime Minister, to demonstrably dispel any perception to the effect that the impugned notifications may have been issued to avoid implementation of the policy of the HEC…

“to conduct a transparent and independent audit and evaluation, particularly in case of the entities in which the chairman PM’s Task Force had or continued to have a direct or indirect interest…

“We further expect that the controlling authority will restrain the chairman PM’s Task Force from interfering or in any other manner whatsoever dealing with the affairs of the HEC.” 

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Afshan Zaki

A Karachi University Graduate Afshan Zaki is associated with the field of Media as newscaster, presenter and anchor since 2017.