ISLAMABAD: Minister for religious affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi has admitted in Supreme Court (SC) corruption has been committed during Hajj operation but it is not enormous and its quantum is less than last year corruption.
The SC during the course of hearing of Hajj corruption suo motu notice ordered the secretary for religious affairs not to leave the country without the permission of prime minister. The court has also issued directives that name of arrested DG Hajj be placed in Exit Control List (ECL) and 700 riyals overcharged each from Hajjajs in the name of facilities in Minna be returned to them.
A 6-member SC bench presided over by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising justice Javed Iqbal, justice Tassadaq Hussain Jillani, justice Raja Fayyaz Hussain, justice Ghulam Rabbani and justice Khalil ur Rehman Ramday heard Hajj corruption suo motu notice Monday.
“As to why government inducts corrupt officers on top posts. Rehman Malik be asked why name of Rao Shakil has been deleted from ECL”, CJP remarked.
“You were facing corruption charges of Rs 30 million in Multan Development Authority (MDA). The case is pending hearing with NAB. Then as to how you became DG Hajj, Have you been appointed DG Hajj for the reason that you were deputy commissioner of Multan”, court inquired from Rao Shakeel.
‘Justice Javed Iqbal inquired from minister for religious affairs “ You say corruption has been committed. In your presence FIA and other investigation agencies will not be able to conduct impartial investigation. In this situation whether you should remain minister for religious affairs during the investigation.
The court refused to receive FIA report in the absence of DG FIA.
Hamid Saeed Kazmi appeared in the court in person and said he wanted to file reply to the charges leveled against him. Corruption allegations were brought against him but no evidence have been provided, he submitted.
“Evidence will be presented now”, CJP observed. “My character assassination campaign is going on in media”, Hamid Saeed Kazmi said.
“Media is your enemy. Media conducts program on court too. We reform ourselves. Whosoever was appointed proved guilty. If Dr Khalid Soomro and Maulana Qasim are telling lie ”, CJP said.
“Is Pakistan ambassador in Saudi Arabia telling lie and is he your enemy too”, Justice Ramday observed.
“Yes he is my enemy. But I don’t consider parliamentary committee report wrong, Kazmi said.
“You have been favoring unfair persons. There will be mud-slinging against you. You are minister of what job. Responsibility will be fixed on you”, justice Ramday said.
“Hazrat Umar (RA) had said if any dog died on the bank of river Farat due to thirst, Umar will be held responsible for it. People seek blessing on the occasion of Hajj but they were cursing you there”, CJP remarked.
“Hajj corruption is the largest robbery of the history of Hajj. This is negligence on the part of ministry for religious affairs”, justice Javed Iqbal remarked.
Pakistan ambassador in Saudi Arabia should also appear in the court ”, CJP said.
“ I hope court will give verdict in line with norms of justice”, Kazmi said. I am facing threat to my life”, he added.
“Almighty Allah is protector. What night is due to come in grave, can not come outside the grave”, CJP said.
Expressing concern over the appointment of Rao Shakil as DG Hajj , court inquired as to why the government inducts corrupt officers. Is the country lacking honest persons. If people like Rao Rashid and Adnan Khawaja are left for induction on top positions, court inquired.
“Rao Shakeel was facing corruption charges. The case was pending hearing. His name was included in ECL then as to how he was appointed DG Hajj and his name was struck off from ECL” Justice Javed Iqbal inquired.
“We will ask from Rehman Malik on whose behalf the name of Rao Shakil was deleted from ECL”, CJP said.
Addressing secretary for religious affairs, CJP said “you did not spare Holy Kaaba. We leave it to you to decide that 180000 pilgrims are saying correct or some persons including minister are right”. One senator said on TV court should take some action for God’s sake.
Dr Khalid Soomro said quota is allotted to tour operators by receiving Rs 20000 to Rs 25000 each from them. Holy Quran should be placed on their heads and they be asked to swear on Quran.
“What treatment they will mete out to Holy Quran who did not spare Hajj.”, C JP said.
“Those who have swallowed hard earned money of Hajjajs, Almighty Allah will make them lesson for others”, Justice Ramday remarked.
The court declared the replies filed by secretary for religious affairs unsatisfactory.
Pir Imran Shah said pilgrims were saying had the suicide not been forbidden they would have committed suicide.
Another legislator Bilal Yasir said DG Hajj alone could not commit corruption. People were naming president and prime minister too there. But I have no evidence in this regard just now, he added.
“ Why it is called Rehmani Hajj. Give the report with reference to Rehmani Hajj. As to why all Khudam Hajjaj were taken from Rahim Yar Khan”, justice Javed Iqbal inquired.
When stated by tour operator Abdul Ghaffar that he had obtained quota without bribery, CJP said what are you talking about. The entire world knows how the quota is acquired. We have received applications that quota was not allotted because desired money was not paid.
The hearing of the case has been adjourned till December, 9.