The Supreme Court on Monday expressed serious resentment on Pakistan Railways (PR) over the recent accidents and reported plans to sell its land in Sindh and directed the federal government to take measures for its improvement.
The apex court ruled that the railways land would not be allowed to be leased out or transferred to any private person or employees, but only to be used for operational purposes.
A three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed also took exception to a statement of Railways Minister Azam Swati after the recent Ghotki train accident in which he said he was ready to resign if it would cover the losses and casualties in the accident.
Terming it an irresponsible statement aimed at discouraging passengers, the CJP said that the prime minister should look into it.
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The bench also comprising Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin directed the attorney general to file a report in this regard on June 16.
The apex court was informed that 82 percent of tracks of railways were in a dilapidated condition and needed urgent attention as the Main Line-I (ML-I) project, to be executed by China under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), would take many years to complete.
The chief justice deplored that over 65 passengers had lost their lives and more than 100 were injured in the tragic accident, but the minister and railways secretary remained unmoved.
While expressing displeasure over the functioning of the PR, the CJP said that they recently heard a case regarding a train accident in Quetta and only a gatekeeper was held responsible for it and was transferred as punishment.
He remarked that the public transport was running on subsidies across the world, but apparently the railways officials were focusing on its land to sell it instead of improving its service.
During the proceedings, the bench was informed that the railways were reportedly planning to sell its land in Sindh and discussions were held to promulgate an ordinance in this regard.
The CJP said that the apex court would strike down any such move and observed that PR employees had encroached upon almost half of the PR lands on the pretext of housing societies.
The bench noted that the PR was approaching the apex court for removal of encroachments on its land, but on the other hand it seemed that the railways officials were evolving a mechanism to sell its land.
The CJP said not an inch of PR land would be allowed to be sold.
It questioned the manner in which PR’s affairs were running and questioned the working of its officials asking the federal government to take measures to improve railways and ensure the safety of passengers.