ISLAMABAD - The Public Accounts Committee has set a deadline of December 18 for Supreme Court Registrar Dr Faqir Hussain, following his truancy from the committee meeting.

The SC registrar is evading attendance from the PAC meeting despite being summoned on Friday, inviting annoyance of the committee members. The resilient parliamentary body issued another summon to Dr Faqir, giving him until December 18 to appear before the committee.

The committee said that there was no justification of establishing departments like Auditor General of Pakistan and Public Accounts Committee when the influential departments like the apex court were not willing for audit. The registrar was summoned to explain apex court's objections to the audit.  "What can we do when influential departments are not willing to cooperate with Auditor General of Pakistan to get their accounts audited," Chairman Public Accounts Committee Nadeem Afzal Chan remarked during proceedings of the meeting.

Chan said the committee could approach the apex court directly against the registrar's non-compliance or submit a reference in parliament.  The matter would be decided on Tuesday at the next session of PAC, the chairman said. Expressing displeasure over the absence of Hussain, the committee members said that the registrar let down PAC by his action.

They said the body was only interested in scrutinising the usage of tax payers’ money and it did not intend to malign anyone.  PAC member Yasmin Rehman said until 2004 the SC registrar used to appear before PAC and he is legally bound to turn up before the committee.

Another member Noor Alam Khan said: “If a person is summoned by the court and he does not appear, it is inferred that he is hiding something.  He said that when the prime minister and ministers appear before the court, why the registrar cannot turn up to the PAC meeting.”

He said the committee wants to make the registrar accountable for the public money and the registrar should be summoned again.

Khan maintained that Hussain should be brought to the meeting handcuffed by the police, if he refuses to come willingly.

Ayaz Sadiq, another member, said there should be no clash among the institutions and the matter should be sent to the speaker.  PAC meeting also scrutinised the audit objections of FWO, DHA, National Assembly Secretariat and the Senate Secretariat.  Supreme Court, Nadra, National Press Trust, DHA and FWD are among those institutions that had refused to get their accounts audited.

PAC asked the attorney general to compile a list of the departments refusing to audit and present it to the committee on its next meeting.

Officials of the National Assembly Secretariat appeared before the PAC and explained their objections to the audit.

The committee observed that all government employees should be paid pay equally.  Separately, Attorney General Irfan Qadir has said that the registrar is bound to appear before PAC.

Talking to the media, Qadir said that PAC examines financial accounts, not the behaviour of the judges. The apex court's financial accounts should be transparent and beyond suspicion, he added.

On Thursday, the SC had stated that its registrar would not appear before PAC, asserting that the parliamentary body has no constitutional authority to scrutinise apex court's accounts, as Article 175-3 of the Constitution separates the judiciary from the executive.