ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Thursday granted three more days to the National Logistics Cell (NLC) director general, two former directors general and 30 other senior officials to submit their replies over the issue of containers meant for supplies to ISAF and NATO in Afghanistan, which entered the Pakistani territory over the past four years in the name of the Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) and pilfered, causing a whopping loss of Rs 19 billion to Rs 37 billion to the national exchequer.
A four-member bench - comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Muhammad Sair Ali, Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday - observed that the officials, who did not submit their reply so far, indicated that they did not have anything to produce in their defence. However, they were also being granted three more days to submit their replies. The court said 30 officials of the total 43 who were served notices, had submitted their reply.
It was informed that the replies of Customs Member Munir Qureshi and former customs member Afzal were ready, on which the court directed them to submit their replies with the Registrar's office. Appearing on notice, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Salman Siddique assured the court that the officials involved in the illegal practices will not be spared and the embezzled money will be recovered. The court made the chairman's statement part of the record.
FBR's counsel, Raja Muhammad Irshad told the court that a team had been formed under the headship of a senior official Hafiz Muhammad Idrees to probe the pilferage of containers. He said in pursuance of the court orders, responsible officials had also been issued notices. However, some officials had to still submit their comments. The chief justice said it was an issue of a very serious nature.
Afnan Kundi, counsel for the NLC director general, told the court that due to some security reasons, they could not receive the court notice. Upon court orders, Kundi read out a statement about non-receiving of the court notice by the NLC director general. "We will see into this matter on our own," the chief justice said.
After hearing FBR counsel's statement about appointments and transfers of officials, the chief justice said the FBR chairman was taking stern action, thus it seemed as if he would also be removed from his post and made the Balochistan chief secretary. The court adjourned hearing until February 10, directing the FBR to submit a complete report on the matter.