–Chief justice reprimands ex-info minister Pervaiz Rashid for ‘lawlessness’ in PTV after columnist’s hiring as chairman of state-run TV
–Court hints at referring Qasmi’s appointment case to NAB; Qasmi was paid Rs278m in salaries and advertising cuts during his two-year stint at state-run TV channel
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday announced that it would deliver the verdict on the suo moto case of former Pakistan Television (PTV) Attaul Haq Qasmi’s appointment as managing director (MD) and his job benefits, on July 9.
A three-member bench of the apex court presided over by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing the case of Qasmi’s appointment to the position of MD at the state-run television and the salary and perks obtained by him.
During the hearing, Justice Nisar questioned former information minister Pervaiz Rashid about the amount of salary he drew.
“As information minister, you did not have unlimited powers. Your salary was over Rs300,000 and you drove a Mercedes,” the CJP said while addressing Rashid. He then asked why Qasmi was paid so much?
“His salary was decided after recommendations from all departments and if the finance division had an issue they could have opposed it,” the former information minister answered.
“Qasmi served as both chairman and MD of the state-run TV at the same time,” added Justice Ijazul Hassan. “Qasmi’s appointment was an attempt to save the state-run TV,” replied Rashid.
“How can any department oppose someone who is appointed on the behest of their head?” remarked the CJP.
He then advised Rashid against corruption, saying, “You are our leader and leaders should be aware that this is the nation’s money.”
The former information minister’s counsel then argued that Qasmi’s salary was approved by the previous prime minister.
“A summary of Qasmi’s salary of Rs1.5 million was sent to then-premier by the finance division,” said the counsel.
“You are right that the then premier approved the summary but everyone should take responsibility for the lawlessness that happened afterwards. Qasmi was not appointed MD so how was he enjoying the powers and salary of that post?” the apex court’s judge asked.
“What was the criteria behind hiring Qasmi and who asked for him to be appointed to the post,” he further questioned and added, “I am mulling over referring the case to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).”
Justice Hassan also inquired about the criteria for Rashid’s selection of Qasmi for the post to which the CJP added by asking if Qasmi was the “the only capable media person” for the post.
“Before Qasmi, the former information minister also appointed four other chairmen. However, he served as the ambassador for two countries and has even been honoured with a Hilal-e-Imtiaz.”
Justice Nisar wrapped up the hearing, saying the court will announce its verdict on July 9.
Furthermore, the CJP said that he would hear former finance minister Ishaq Dar and former finance secretary’s statements on the same day. He wondered if the top court should close its eyes and let the government run rampant. He observed that the government ignored regulations for its convenience while deploying unjust means to appoint Qasmi and said that there must be rules in relation to the limit of the government’s powers.
Urdu columnist, playwright and poet Qasmi, who was appointed as PTV’s chairman in 2015, went ahead and self-appointed himself as the state TV’s MD in 2017, in blatant violation of rules.
The additional attorney general and information secretary had informed the court that Qasmi had reportedly received a total of Rs278 million in salaries and advertising cuts during his two-year stint at the state-run TV channel.