ISLAMABAD: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Friday said that law barred it from sharing details of written-off loans with parliament.

An SBP official told the Senate Committee on Rules and Privileges that it was not bound to share the details, while the committee maintained that the ruling of the Senate chairman could not be overruled with regard to sharing information with the Senate about those who had got written loans during the last five years.

Committee Chairman Senator Dr. Jehanzeb Jamaldini contended that if in-camera briefing can be given to parliament on matters of intelligence agencies like ISI, MI, and IB, what was the national interest in hiding the details of written-off loans.

It was decided that legal opinion would be sought from experts, including Leader of Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan, Senator Farooq H Naek, Senator Farogh Nasim, Senator Babar Awan and others to decide once and for all whether or not the law barring sharing of information also applied to parliament.

BNP-Mengal Senator Dr. Jehanzeb Jamaldini presided over the meeting, which decided to hold another meeting on this matter of breach of privilege.

The point became a point of contention between the committee members and the Ministry of Finance and the State Bank of Pakistan representatives when the meeting has informed that information about those who had got loans written off during the last five years could not be shared with the Senate as per the relevant laws.

Secretary Finance Dr. Waqar Masood contended that the SBP had sought the opinion of a retired judge of the Supreme Court Sarmad Jalal Osmany, who had said that the law barred the bank from sharing the data about clients, who managed to get their loans written off.

On this, PPP Senator Saeed Ghani said that there was a clear ruling of the Senate Chairman, Mian Raza Rabbani, on November 04, which was communicated to the relevant quarters the same day that the requisite information must be shared with the Senate.

However, the ministry officials and SBP representatives stuck to their viewpoint and said that they would request the Senate chairman to have a review of his ruling, as there were laws that barred them from giving details of the bank clients to parliament.

Rabbani in his ruling had also sought action against the officials of the Ministry of Finance and the State Bank, who had drafted misleading information in response to a question. Others who attended the meeting included Senator Saleem Zia of PML-N, Shahi Syed of ANP and Ms. Nighat Mirza of MQM.