No Information Can Be Withheld From Parliament: Raza Rabbani

No information can be withheld from Parliament: Raza Rabbani

ISLAMABAD (Pakistan Point News - 04th Nov, 2016 ) : Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani Friday observed that no information can be hidden from the Parliament by taking refuge under any law. In his Ruling, with regard to a written reply referring Section 33-A of Banking Companies Ordinance, 1962 and Section 9 of Protection of Economic Reform Act, 1992 by the National Bank of Pakistan, the Chairman said, no person, organization, body or authority could hide any information from the Parliament.

It was stated in the reply that the Names of persons and companies who had obtained loans from the National Bank of pakistan was private information of the borrowers and was protected. "No person, organization, body, authority or the government can refuse to provide information to the Parliament by taking refuge under any rule, regulation or law," he observed and cited that the House was misled by the ministry concerned and the organization by merging two provisions of distinct laws to create impression which was not legally justified.

He asserted that it was a deliberate attempt to withhold information from Parliament which amounts to breach of privilege of the House and its member. However, he said, keeping in view the stand taken by Minister for Law and Justice, the National Bank of Pakistan through Ministry of Finance, would inform the House within ten days of this ruling regarding the names and action taken against persons and officials of the National Bank of Pakistan and Ministry of Finance, who drafted and approved the misleading answer for placing the same before the Parliament.

Elaborating further Mian Raza Rabbani said that the Constitution places the Parliament on a different pedestal from that of any organization or body as same can be fortified by clause (3) of Article 66, Constitution, 1973, which provides that the impediment to the provision of information can only by President's Order and not by an act of Parliament. He cited that Section 9 of the Protection of Economic Reform Act, 1992, and Section 33A of the Banking Companies Ordinance, 1962, do not and cannot put any fetters on the powers of the Parliament to seek information in the public interest.

Chairman maintained that even otherwise, if the government was of the opinion that providing names of persons who have obtained loans will be against the public interest, the only available remedy was to make recourse to the provisions of Senate Rules, 2012, for making request to the Chairman Senate in this regard and no such request had been made in the instant case. The Chairman Senate gave this ruling in response to a question of Senator Chaudhry Tanvir Khan seeking information regarding the names of persons and companies, who had obtained loans of Rs 5 million or more from the National Bank of Pakistan during the last five years and the number of cases in which the said loans were repaid and those which were waived off.

The House was informed in the reply that aggregate loan amount of Rs. 5 million and above disbursed by NBP during last five years (July 2011 to June, 2016) was Rs 360 billion. Out of total amount disbursed during the said period, the outstanding loan of Rs 271 billion comprised regular loan of Rs. 216 billion and Non Performing Loans (NPLs) of Rs. 55 billion. No loan was written-off out of the loans disbursed during the last five years. The Chairman also referred the members' arguments on the day when the matter was under discussion. He also directed to send the copies of the ruling to the Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization, the Minister for Law and Justice and the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs for ensuring strict compliance. APP/az/azm