In a rare instance of judicial activism, Pakistan’s Chief Justice Saqib Nisar on Saturday announced to recover billions of dollars of illegally written off loans to finance construction of two dams to meet water shortage in the country. He made the comments while hearing a suo motu case initiated in 2008 and related to a controversial scheme by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to write off bad debts.
More than 200 companies hugely benefitted when their loans worth Rs 54 billion which they owed to commercial banks were waived. Nisar said that the stakeholders including banks had agreed that two dams should be built from the money recovered from 222 companies that benefitted from loan write off. “The water shortage is such a serious matter… I will have some good news regarding this very soon,” he said.
The majority of companies agreed to pay 75 per cent of written off loans, the Chief Justice said.
The judge warned that cases of those companies that opposed the idea will be sent to banking courts for adjudication, where they would have to make full payments and owners could face imprisonments. He adjourned the hearing until July 4 while directing the companies to come up with recommendations how to proceed.