ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Tuesday ordered the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) to conduct audit of the accounts of Defence Housing Authority (DHA) Lahore.

Announcing its verdict on separate petitions regarding state institutions claiming immunity from audit of accounts, the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Jawwad S Khawaja ordered AGP Rana Asad Ameen to proceed with the DHA’s audit.

During the course of proceedings, Justice Qazi Faez Isa asked the DHA’s counsel that why was his client reluctant for audit of its accounts. The counsel replied that the audit was already being conducted by private firms.

The Chief Justice remarked that General Audit and Accounts principles applied on the DHA and asked the Authority to get its audit conducted by the AGP.

The court observed that if the working of the DHA was transparent then it should not worry about the audit of its accounts. The AGP office had written many letters to the DHA administration, which always replied that they enjoyed immunity from audit.

The court directed the AGP to issue notices to all the departments, which had refused to get their audit conducted by the AGP office.

The apex court ordered the DHA to provide all required documents to the AGP office for the audit of their accounts.

According to the Constitution, all federal and provincial governments and departments were required to have their accounts audited by the AGP, the court ordered.

It noted that the claim of immunity from audit by 19 state institutions was against the Constitution.

The matter pertaining to the audit arose during the hearing of the case about a dispute over possession of 137 canal state land in Lahore by the DHA.

According to the prosecutor general, the DHA had allegedly occupied 137 canal land of the Punjab government, 64 canals of which was allotted by late prime minister Muhammad Khan Junejo for the settlement of katchi abadis residents in Lahore.

At the last hearing of the case, Auditor General Rana Asad Ameen informed the court that they had written six letters to the DHA for carrying out audit of their accounts but its management was not cooperating with them. He said that the AGP did not have powers like the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for the investigation.