The Supreme Court on Friday directed counsel for the State Bank of Pakistan to submit comprehensive details of the people who succeeded in getting their bank loans amounting to Rs256.665 million written off during the period from 1971 to 2009.

It also hinted that if such people refused to return public money, criminal proceedings against them could be initiated.

A three-member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalil ur Rehman Ramday in its order observed that details had not been furnished so far by the SBP in this regard.

After conducting hearing on suo motu case, the bench ordered SBP counsel to place on record details of Baig Committee constituted to waive off loans.

The bench noted that there were certain cases in which loans had been waived off in pursuance of circular or direction of SBP and the others which were pending before banking courts for adjudication for a long period.

The direction on the first category had already been issued by the Court while on second category of cases pertaining to litigation, a complete performa was sought.

The SBP was asked to contact other banks to ascertain details of cases pending with banking courts for recovery of loans as well as criminal cases under offenses of Special Courts Ordinance 1984.

A detail in this regard should be provided provinces wise, the order added.

The bench particularly noted that details of mortgaged properties in lieu of loans should also be submitted as it wanted to know what had happened to them.

The bench observed that the issue had been pending with the Court since 2007.

“It is one of the important case. We are of the opinion that amounts involved in the cases belong to public exchequer and required to be spent for public welfare in terms of Article 9 of the Constitution,” the order said.

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However, the short order called for making a distinction between those loans which had been written off while those loans which had been obtained by people for running their small business and construction of houses as discriminatory proceedings would be a violation of Article 25.

Deferring further hearing till August 2, the bench also issued notices to Attorney General for Pakistan, Khawja Haris, Advocate General Punjab, in his personal capacity to assist the court and those people who had filed pleas under human rights category.

Earlier, the bench was apprised that Iqbal Haider, counsel for SBP, was unwell and could not attend proceedings.

The Chief Justice during course of hearing said “We will be calling all those people to deposit loans, otherwise registration of criminal cases would be ordered through Attorney General.”

He questioned as to why SBP president was withdrawing such a huge amount as perks and privileges.

“What is the use of withdrawing such huge amounts! If there is a single penny, it should come back to government’s kitty,” he added.

Justice Khalil ur Rehman Ramday remarked that those who introduced banks and embezzled huge public amounts were elevated to high posts while depositors were begging on the streets.

On February 2, the State Bank of Pakistan in its report submitted with the apex Court stated that an amount of Rs256.665 million was written off during a period of 1971 to 2009 benefitting as many as 669,819 borrowers.

According to report, the loans amounting to Rs 11.22 billion with a limit of Rs 500,000 and above were written off and a total of 1,424 people benefitted from waiver during the period of 1971 to 1996.

Another 22,021 people got loans worth over Rs202 billion written off during a span of 1997 to 2009.

Similarly, in the period from 1971 to 2009, at least 646,374 people got their loans worth below a limit of Rs500,000 and amounting to Rs42,871 million were written off.