LAHORE  - The Lahore High Court employees Thursday called for an independent audit of welfare fund over alleged embezzlement.

Through an application to Justice Muhammad Anwarul Haq, the employees have sought an independent audit and punitive action against the elements involved in misappropriation and embezzlement of the fund. They say no audit of the fund has been carried out since it was established in 2012.

According to the documents available with The Nation, the board of management of Lahore High Court Employees Welfare Fund, under registrar, decided to revise/enhance the monthly deduction at source from the salaries of all officials of the high court on Nov 1, 2017, over and above deduction already being made at present.

According to approval carrying the signature of Muhammad Asghar, additional registrar HR/DDO/Secretary, the salaries are being deducted as per the pay scale of the officials. Total Rs 1000 is being deducted from the monthly salary of officials of BS-1 to 9, Rs 1500 from BS-10 to 14, Rs 2000 from the officials of BS-15, Rs 2500 from the officials of BS-16, Rs 3500 from the officials of BS-17, total Rs 4000 from the officials of BS- 18 and BS-19 and total Rs 6000 from the BS-20 and BS-21.

The LHC  Employees Welfare Fund was set up on Jan 11, 2012.  Initially, Rs 500 deduction was decided from the salaries of staff from BS-17 to 20 and Rs 300 from the salary of  employees from BS-1 to 16.

Sources said  no audit of the said fund has been carried out so far.  They expressed dismay that it is sorry state of affairs that in a legal institution, this aspect has not been taken care of that in order to maintain transparency.

The officials who wrote application to the senior puisne judge said that the fund needs to be registered under Charitable Societies/Institution Act assembled with rules framed by high court to regulate activities/business, and laid standard procedure to continue the fund which is necessary.

“Every month our salary is deducted but we don’t know where that money is going,” said an official seeking anonymity.

It is requested to at least acquire services of any international insurance company to redress the medical issues of the employees. The flat system may be introduced to cope with the acute housing and residential issues of the officials, the applicants said.

They further said no proper mechanism is there for appointment of any official with the fund.

Nasrullah Khan Niazi, who once was dismissed and was reverted to assistant from the post of assistant director also held  the post of secretary of the fund for the most of the time since its inception.  Niazi has been holding the charge of an important post of HR-I despite that a number of inquiries have been pending against him while Haji Muhammad Asghar, additional registrar –HR,  is now the secretary of the fund.  Another official who held the same post of fund got retired two years ago.

When contacted, LHC Registrar Bahaudar Ali Khan said: “I think the audit of the funds was not conducted but I can’t confirm right now.”  “It must be carried out for transparency,”.   “I believe in transparency,” he added.