–CJP says SC’s observations should not affect NAB court’s proceedings, holds Law Ministry responsible for delay in filing reference
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday disposed a case pertaining to the delay in the construction of Nandipur power project after the three-judge bench was informed that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed a reference in this regard.
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, who was heading the bench, said that as the accountability watchdog had filed a reference it should not let the SC’s observations “affect the accountability court”.
He added that the application — filed by former defence minister Khawaja Asif — had been rendered ineffective after NAB’s reference and dismissed it.
The chief justice said that the delay in the filing of the reference was due to the Law Ministry’s lack of cooperation.
Earlier, an accountability court decided to indict former premier Raja Pervez Ashraf and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Babar Awan in the Nandipur Power Project corruption reference on Oct 24.
During the hearing of the corruption reference filed by the anti-graft body against politicians and government officials, the court ordered to provide a copy of the reference to all accused and directed them to ensure their appearance for the next hearing.
Pervez Ashraf, Babar Awan, former secretaries of the ministry of law Muhammad Masood Chishti and Justice (r) Riaz Kiyani, former research consultant of the Law Ministry Shamila Mahmood, former senior joint secretary Ministry of Law Dr Riaz Mahmood and former secretary Ministry of Water and Power Shahid Rafi are accused in the case.
The Nandipur case was initiated in August this year when the SC restored the 2011 petition of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Asif on alleged corruption in the construction of 525-megawatt combined cycle power plant at Nandipur (Gujranwala).
In 2013, the apex court appointed a one-man commission of former Justice Rehmat Hussain Jafri on the Nandipur project. In its 94-page report, the commission concluded that the national exchequer suffered a colossal loss of Rs113 billion due to negligence of the then Federal Law Ministry for causing delay in giving necessary approval and completing documents for the execution of 950-megawatt power generation projects of Nandipur and Chichon-Ki-Malian.
The report explained that Nandipur and Chichon-Ki-Malian projects could not take off due to the criminal negligence of the Law Ministry on frivolous technical grounds. It added that the Law Ministry did not clear the issuance of sovereign guarantee of the Finance Ministry to the contractor, resulting in the termination of work.
According to details shared by NAB, after Awan was replaced as the law minister, the legal opinion was issued on November 2011 – after more than two years. This inordinate and malafide delay caused a huge loss of Rs 27 billion to the national exchequer.
During the course of the investigation, it was established that the accused committed the offence(s) of corruption and corrupt practice, as defined in u/s 9 (a) (vi) and (xii) read with Sr.5 of Schedule Offences of NAO, 1999.
Babar Awan later told the SC bench headed by then CJP Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry that he was being persecuted by his political opponents.