ISLAMABAD -  While terming the Sindh Coal Authority (SCA) ‘dysfunctional’, the Supreme Court directed the provincial chief secretary on Friday to hold an inquiry into the projects and schemes undertaken by the energy board and the Special Initiative Department (SID) and submit a ‘proposed report’ within two months.

The apex court, while announcing the verdict reserved on March 14, directed the Sindh chief secretary to probe all the projects and schemes undertaken by the SCA and the SDI in line with the observations made in the judgment.

The former chief justice had taken suo moto of appointments and postings made in the SCA in contravention of the SC judgments and in violation the Sindh Civil Servants Act, 1973.

The provincial government had conceded that some of the appointments were not made in accordance with the law and officers had been repatriated to their respective departments. The provincial government had contended that the appointments of Danish Saeed as DG, Muhammad Ali Memon as chief engineer and Zameer Ahmed Sheikh as an executive engineer were made in accordance with the law.

However, the apex court noted that these officers were inducted in violation of the apex court judgments and the Sindh Civil Servants Act, 1973.

The judgment authored by Justice Faez Isa also declared that the SCA can only implement and execute such projects and schemes which are mentioned in the Sindh Coal Authority Act.

It said that by adding the prefix ‘coal’ to a project or a scheme or otherwise juggling words, a project or a scheme cannot be executed by the SCA which was not mentioned in the Sindh Coal Authority Act.

The bench directed that the projects and schemes which have been or were being implemented/executed by the SCA but were not related to exploration, development, processing, mining or utilizing of coal in the Sindh be immediately transferred to the concerned provincial government department in terms of Schedule II of the Sindh Government Rules of Business.

It directed that the projects and schemes which have been or were being implemented/executed by the SID be immediately transferred to the concerned government department in terms of Schedule II of the Sindh Government Rules of Business.

The court observed that the SCA was established to explore, develop, process mine and utilise coal in the province of Sindh, however, “instead of undertaking what the law mandates it do, it undertook activities which the Act does not permit, and that too without the approval of its board”.

“The SID, to which the Rules of Business have not designated any business, is merely a department in name or an empty shell, nonetheless it has embarked upon undertaking a number of projects and schemes for which it has absolutely no mandate or ability,” the verdict said.

The court said that the SCA and the SID together were implementing and executing projects and schemes worth Rs105 billion. “A small clique of persons is put in charge of these massive funds, avoiding established methods of checks and balances and circumventing the prescribed manner of implementing and executing of projects/schemes; which is a matter of grave public concern,” the judgement said.

The court noted that the case involved fundamental rights of the people. It said Article 9 of the Constitution deal right to life, which includes the right to adequate and safe drinking water and basic health care to which a large number of these projects/schemes pertain to. “Whereas the right to live a life with dignity under Article 14 would be meaningless, if the people are deprived of the benefit of projects and schemes that are paid out of the public exchequer.”

The court said that “the fundamental rights of the people are adversely affected when scarce resources are wasted, when there is unnecessary duplication of work, when responsibility is shirked by those executing public works and when it would be very difficult to hold anyone accountable as a result of implementing and executing projects/schemes through an entity or department which the law does not sanction.”