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— File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Friday to seize the record of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) relating to applications and marketing licences pending since 2008, for setting up CNG stations.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, is hearing a suo motu case about the issuance of CNG station licences during the tenures of former prime ministers Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf and former petroleum minister Dr Asim Hussain.

The case was initiated on a note of the SC registrar pointing to the alleged efforts by the bureaucracy to conceal dubious summaries through which, despite a ban imposed on March 18, 2008, Mr Gilani had granted 450 CNG station licences in collusion with former Ogra chief Tauqir Sadiq, brother-in-law of PPP leader Jahangir Badar.

The court directed the FIA to take into possession the record in order to prevent any attempt to remove the alleged wrongdoing. It ordered FIA Director General Saood Mirza to complete the task on or before April 13.

The FIA was told to submit three sets of the documents so that the judges could go through them before the next date of hearing on April 15.

The court appeared unhappy when Ogra Executive Director Moazzam Hussain informed it that only 250 of 1,471 files containing operational licences issued since 2008 could be traced for want of time.

During the hearing on Wednesday, Ogra had informed the court that it had issued 1,471 CNG stations licences between 2008 and 2012, but all the applicants had secured no-objection certificates before then caretaker government headed by prime minister Mohammedmian Soomro placed a ban on new gas connections to industrial and commercial entities.

The court said it would determine how many lucrative contracts had been approved with retrospective effect.

Petroleum Secretary Abid Saeed submitted copies of summaries approved by previous prime ministers for issuing the licences for CNG stations, including Mr Soomro on Jan 13, 2008; whereas these summaries were approved by Mr Gilani on Sept 22, 2011. Mr Ashraf was responsible for issuing 200 licences on March 12, 2013, despite the ban.

After going through the summaries which allowed relaxation in grant of import of 1,200 consignments of gas cylinders worth Rs6.3 billion between Sept 14, 2009 and 2011, and import of 43 consignments of 61,000 CNG kits amounting to Rs4.7 million, the court ordered the petroleum secretary to submit at the next hearing a copy of the letters of credit opened by the importers during the period of relaxation of rules.

Advocate Iftikhar Gilani, who replaced Salman Akram Raja to represent Ogra, informed the court that the National Accountability Bureau in the Tauqir Sadiq case had already examined the CNG licences issued after 2008 and asked the court to grant him time till Monday.

Updated Apr 13, 2013 06:57am

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