LAHORE - The Supreme Court Tuesday ordered confiscation of all government vehicles given to ministers and government officials without official entitlement, observing that anyone who needed bulletproof vehicle should buy it from his own packet.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar passed the order at the Supreme Court Lahore registry. The top judge also summoned former federal law minister Zahid Hamid to explain as to why he used the official car.

The bench also sought details about the security provided to the people and officials without the required entitlement including Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s sons Salman Shehbaz, MNA Hamza.  Following a court order, DIG Abdur Rab submitted a report that security had been withdrawn from 246 people. However, 114 people had been provided security on the recommendations of the committee made by the court, the officer said.

“Come up with verified report within 24 hours,” the CJP directed the IGP and observed: “The IGP and the DIG will be responsible if the incorrect report is submitted,”.  The court put off further proceeding for a week.

About the official vehicles, the bench observed while addressing AGP that submit details about the officials vehicles and it should be complete report on it. “No falsification would be tolerated,” the CJP remarked.

The top judge had already ordered federal and provincial cabinet secretaries on April 14 to submit record of all ministers and officials using Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and luxury cars without official entitlement.

Additional Attorney General Syed Nayyar Abbas Rizvi  appeared before the court and furnished a detailed report stating that 105 government-owned automobiles were in the use by the members of federal cabinet and departments, whereas 191 are being used by Punjab's cabinet and departments.

He said no government official could have any official car in excess of 1800cc.  The law officer said that JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had Land Cruiser and three double cabin automobiles, whereas federal ministers Abid Sher Ali and Kamran Michael had been using Mercedes Benz. He informed the court that Opposition leader in National Assembly Khursheed Shah, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali both have a bulletproof cars.

During the proceedings, the bench asked about former federal law minister Zahid Hamid that why he was using the official car.

Rizvi further informed the court that no government officer or minister has the right to have a government vehicle in excess of 1800cc.

At this, Chief Justice Nisar directed the chief secretary to impound by midnight all the government vehicles that are being used beyond their official entitlement.

“All those who have been involved in the same practice would also be summoned,” the CJP remarked.  The court directed the Advocate General of Punjab to present the correct information, observing that falsification on the subject matter would not be tolerated.

The CJP directed the government to take back two extra vehicles given to Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the bulletproof car in possessions of Punjab Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah would also be taken back.  “If anybody needs bulletproof cars he can buy from his own pocket,” CJP Nisar observed.

Taking up the private schools’ fee, the CJP issued notice to the respondents and sought replies. The court also turned down the petitions challenging the stay orders of the Lahore High Court.  “ Big people exploited parents by opening private schools,” the top judge remarked, adding that “they don’t have much salaries to pay such fees to the private schools,”.  The top judge also observed that education is not industry; it’s basic right,”.  The bench also sought explaination as to why the withholding tax was being taken from the children. 

Also,  the smog commission submitted a report to the Supreme Court and suggested that action should be taken against the industrial units causing pollution in various parts of the country.  The commission headed by Dr Pervez Hassan submitted 36-page report before the court.  The commission in its report suggested that emergency sirens should be run in the cities if the air quality exceeded the limit of 300 quality index. The commission further suggested that masks should be distributed among the citizens to protect them from the pollution while more and more trees should be planted.  It suggested that the old trees should be preserved.

Environmental Monitoring Units should be made functional and agreements should be signed with the neighboring countries to avoid smog and pollution in the air, coordination between the public sector departments like the forest and environment should be developed and air quality index should be made public on daily basis.