ISLAMABAD, Aug 31: The Islamabad High Court suspended on Friday arrest warrants for Ziaur Rehman Farooqi, chief executive officer of Dewan Petroleum, issued by the National Accountability Bureau.
NAB alleged that the company had taken illegal benefits in the shape of increased gas price through a Feb 17, 2011, notification issued by Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority’s former chairman Tauqeer Sadiq.
While suspending the arrest warrants, a two-judge bench comprising Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi and Justice Muhammad Azim Khan Afridi issued notices to NAB, petroleum ministry, Ogra and Sui Southern Gas Pipelines Ltd and asked them to submit replies.
Dewan Petroleum’s counsel Iqbal Haider and Mohammad Nadeem said the case provided an example of NAB’s highhandedness which had been causing harassment to innocent citizens for display of false performance before the Supreme Court.
They informed the court that the Feb 17 notification which increased the gas price from $2.8 per MMBTU to $3.9 had been withdrawn the same day on the orders of the apex court. How could the company be asked to return the amount which it had never received, Iqbal Haider said.
Petitioner Ziaur Rehman informed the court that on Aug 6 this year the company had come to know through the media that NAB had filed a report in the Supreme Court stating that the former Ogra chairman illegally issued the notification raising the price of gas being supplied to the government by Dewan Petroleum.
The report claimed that the move caused a loss of about Rs22 billion to the national exchequer.
On Aug 8, the petitioner said, the company had received a letter from NAB with a demand to return an ‘unspecified’ amount of money within 24 hours. The company replied that it had never received any money.
On Aug 29, Ziaur Rehman said, he had received a letter dated Aug 15 with his arrest warrant.
Iqbal Haider informed the court that on Aug 28 some few newspapers had carried out a report quoting NAB sources that the bureau had issued arrest warrants for the CEO of a petroleum company. He said the news item had damaged the reputation of Dewan Petroleum.
Talking to Dawn, Iqbal Haider said that in 2007 then prime minister Shaukat Aziz had appointed former attorney general Malik Qayyum as arbitrator to settle the gas price dispute between the government and Dewan Petroleum. Mr Qayyum raised the price, but the government never honoured it.
The company filed a writ in the Lahore High Court which decided the case in its favour, but the government did not abide by the order. The company then filed a contempt of court petition which was also decided in its favour.
On Feb 17, 2011, the government had issued the notification under the instructions of the apex court and later withdrawn it the same day also under the court’s orders.
The petitioner requested to the court to suspend the NAB’s letter and arrest warrants. The court accepted his plea and put off matter till a date to be fixed by its registrar.