ISLAMABAD, Dec 27: A media management firm, which lost its bid to organise a week-long cultural festival in the city, lost its argument in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that Lok Virsa played foul in awarding the contract to its rival.

Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan of the court on Thursday dismissed the petition filed by Mushtaq Ahmed Khan, owner of the firm Mass Media Link, that argued that Lok Virsa did not follow the rules in awarding the Rs25 million contract to the firm Creative Concerns.

S.M. Zahoor, the counsel for the petitioner, said the Ministry of National Heritage and Integration in collaboration with the Lok Virsa on December 7, 2012, had invited bids for organising the ‘Pakistan Week’ celebrations from December 24 to 30. The festival was later delayed for a week. The secretary National Heritage and the executive director of Lok Virsa were cited as the respondents in the petition.

Under the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules, the invitation for the bids should be published in at least two largest circulated newspapers. However, the organisers violated the rules in order to award the contract to their favourite firm, he claimed.

He said the respondents opened the tenders on December 21, three days before the festival, and then awarded the contract.

Under the PPRA, it was mandatory for the organisers to make public the ‘bid evaluation report’ within 10 days of tendering the contract. He added the organisers were supposed to justify the grounds on which they had accepted or rejected the bid. But in the present case, neither the evaluation report was made public nor the names of the successful bidder disclosed.

Talking to Dawn, Advocate Zahoor said the alleged irregularities in the process of awarding the contract and the delay in organising the event showed vested interests of the respondents.

When contacted, Khalid Javed, the executive director Lok Virsa, claimed that the contract had been processed in a transparent manner and was awarded to an event management firm ‘Creative Concerns’ in a lawful manner.

He said the event had been planned on the directions of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. According to him, the festival was postponed to January 1 because the prime minister was not available to inaugurate it on Dec 24.

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