LAHORE - The Supreme Court has termed as unconstitutional the rules seeking Punjab chief minister’s permission for launching corruption cases in Punjab.

A two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar announced the verdict on a plea filed by Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Punjab Director General Hussain Asghar.

The apex court also directed to conclude the anti-corruption cases lying pending with Lahore High Court (LHC) in two weeks.

Certain sub-rules in rules 5, 6 and 10 of the Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment Rules 2014 require the provincial ACE flank to obtain chief minister's permission before taking action against top-level bureaucrats. ACE Punjab DG had told the court that it was mandatory for the investigative body to take permission from the chief minister before initiating proceedings against any high-profile bureaucrat. ACE cannot even file a first investigation report against an officer without a go ahead from the CM, he added.

Separately, the CJP took notice of the miserable condition at United Christian Hospital (UCH) and announced that he will visit the health facility today. He directed the authorities concerned to provide all possible health facilities to the masses without any hindrances.

APP adds: The Supreme Court Friday gave three months time to nine officers of public sector companies for return of additional salaries.

The bench comprising CJP Saqib Nisar and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan passed the orders while hearing a suo motu notice regarding huge salary structure of officers of public companies in Punjab.

At the outset of proceedings, National Accountability Bureau's Director General Saleem Shahzad appeared before the bench and apprised that nine officers of the public sector companies had refused to return the additional salaries, the amount received by the civil servants as heads or officials of the public sector companies in addition to their regular salaries.

He submitted that the amount to be recovered from these officials was estimated at Rs 124 million. In response to a court query, he submitted that former director general Lahore Development Authority Ahad Cheema, Saaf Pani Company former CEO Waseem Ajmal and others were also among the said officials. He submitted that 45 officers had agreed to pay Rs 323 million, received as additional salaries.

At this stage, Managing Director Punjab Safe Cities Authority Ali Amir came to the rostrum and submitted that he was one of the nine officials who refused to return the amount. He submitted that he was a grade-21 officer and received the amount in excess to his salary as per the authority rules.

However, the bench observed that they were public servants, and how come they could be given additional salaries. "You have looted the public money," the chief justice observed.

Subsequently, the bench ordered the officials to return the amounts within three months; otherwise, strict action would be taken against them, while adjourning the hearing. Project Director of Safe City Authority Akbar Nasir Khan also appeared before the court.