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SC forms body to probe breaches

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has set up an experts’ commission to probe overflowing of rivers, charges of deliberate diversion of floodwater and breaches in embankments of barrages and canals during the recent floods.

SC forms body to probe breachesThe four-member commission will comprise A. K. Lodhi, a former Balochistan chief secretary, former federal secretaries Fateh Khan Fajak and Khwaja Zaheer Ahmed, and Azam Khan, a former chief secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The commission has been asked to complete the investigation in two months.

Qazi Sajid Mahmood, Additional Registrar of the Supreme Court, will act as a facilitator between the commission and the government.

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday had taken a notice of breaches allegedly made in embankments on letters written by renowned lawyer Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim and Senate’s Deputy Chairman Jan Mohammad Khan Jamali and a petition moved by PML-Q’s MNA Marvi Memon. Dr Asad Laghari, Mohammad Rahim Baloch and Advocate Zahida Thebo had also approached apex court on the issue.

The court observed that it had selected senior retired officers having know-how in the relevant subject and had authorised them to record witnesses and investigate the relevant records.

Interestingly, the name of former Wapda chairman and minister Shamsul Mulk, hinted at as head of the commission at the last hearing, has been dropped, apparently to avoid a controversy after Advocate General of Sindh Yousuf Leghari alleged that Mr Mulk had openly spoken in favour of Kalabagh dam.

Conceding that the task assigned to the commission is difficult and laborious during which its members will require logistic support, the apex court ordered the four provincial chief secretaries to extend full support to it.

The cabinet secretary has been asked to cooperate with the chief secretaries. The Survey of Pakistan and secretaries of irrigation and relief commissioners have been directed to provide all possible facilities to the commission.

The court decided to form the commission despite the findings of an inquiry commission appointed by the Sindh government, which said in its report that breaches in Tori and Moolchand Shah Bunder bunds were caused by nature, and were not man-made.

The controversy, the court said, had not been highlighted in reports of certain commissions formed by the provinces and, therefore, it was appropriate to constitute the commission comprising experts instead of judicial officers.

“A factual controversy of public question is required to be answered by a fact-finding body which shall be authorised to exercise all those powers available to commissions constituted by courts. The commission during the course of inquiry can appoint other relevant people with technical expertise and having experience in fields of irrigation, agriculture, embankments, floods and those would have the same authority given to its four members,” the court order said.

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