ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday directed the Sindh chief secretary to conduct an inquiry into all projects and schemes, costing Rs 105 billion, being undertaken by the Sindh Coal Authority (SCA) and the Special Initiative Department (SID). The top court observed that the SCA and the SID were implementing projects worth Rs 105 billion and a small group of people had been put in charge of those massive funds. The court said that the authorities, by doing so, had bypassed the established methods of checks and balances and circumventing the prescribed manner of implementing and executing the projects/schemes, which was a matter of grave public concern. The top court also ordered that the ongoing projects being handled by the SCA and the SID – which were not regarding exploration, development, processing, mining or utilising of coal in Sindh – must immediately be transferred to the department concerned. The court also directed the chief secretary to submit a report after inquiry within two months, after which further orders would be passed. The 19-page judgement, authored by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, on a suo motu case over corruption in the SCA, declared that without a functional board, the authority stood dysfunctional. It said that the SCA could only implement and execute projects and schemes that were mentioned in the Sindh Coal Authority Act. The verdict further declared that by adding the prefix ‘coal’ to a project or a scheme or otherwise juggling words, a project or a scheme could not be executed by the SCA, which was not mentioned in the act. “We (Supreme Court) had expected the government to make amends once these issues were pointed out, but sadly matters have not been righted. The Sindh Coal Authority was established to explore, develop, process, mine and utilise coal in the province, however, instead of undertaking what the law mandates it to do, it undertook activities which the act did not permit, and that too without the approval of its board. The Special Initiative Department, 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 court observed. Then chief justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali had taken a suo motu notice on an anonymous complaint, alleging that persons were illegally employed in the SCA and huge amounts were embezzled from the projects that were being executed by the authority. Now the top court held that the appointments made to the posts of the authority’s director general, deputy director hydrogeology, inspector of coal mines and prosecuting inspector were made by the government “in apparent contravention” of the top court’s judgements of 2013 and 2015 regarding appointments and promotions. “Specific persons were illegally appointed or inducted in the Sindh Coal Authority and it was through these persons that projects/schemes worth billions of rupees were implemented/executed,” the top court observed, adding that in such a scenario, in the absence of a functioning board, where all decisions were made without the authorisation of the board, the DG and energy secretary become all the more responsible and accountable. “We are also at a complete loss to understand how a newly created department, which has no designated business or functions under the rules of business (RoB), [and] has no expertise, capacity or experience, will be able to undertake these multifarious projects and schemes,” Justice Isa observed. The 19-page judgement further stated that it was also quite common for a project or scheme to be found only in a secret file that had been closeted away, and added that it becomes difficult to fix responsibility when a water desalination plant, tube well, road or health unit did not exist. “The people suffer. Their money is squandered. And it is they who bear the brunt of bad governance. The people at the political and bureaucratic helm of government must remember that they are accountable,” the verdict stated.