ISLAMABAD: Former law minister Dr Babar Awan on Wednesday filed an application in an accountability court seeking acquittal in the Nandipur reference filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Accountability court judge Mohammad Arshad Malik issued a notice to NAB and adjourned the hearing till Nov 26.
Mr Awan appeared in court along with over 100 lawyers. Before the start of the court proceedings, he hosted a breakfast for lawyers in the Federal Judicial Complex.
In his application filed under Section 265-K of the Criminal Procedure Code, Mr Awan argued that NAB had accused him of causing delay in furnishing legal opinion for the Nandipur project when he was law minister. It said causing delay was not a crime and the prosecution could not point out any criminal intent for the alleged delay.
Former law minister appears in accountability court along with over 100 lawyers
The application further said that former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had been nominated as accused in this reference for not referring the matter to the federal cabinet whereas Mr Awan’s stance was also the same that the matter could have been decided by the then cabinet.
According to the application, no summary had been kept pending before Mr Awan, instead, there was only a letter from the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco), whereas according to Rules of Business, Pepco was not supposed to write the letter to the law ministry directly but through the controlling ministry which was the water and power division.
On Sept 5, the Rawalpindi NAB filed a reference against seven politicians and officials.
In the reference, NAB contended that the project had faced a delay of two years, one month and 15 days, resulting in a loss of Rs27.3 billion to the exchequer. The project, located in Gujranwala district, could not be completed and operated on time because the accused failed to issue legal opinions.
The Supreme Court, NAB officials stated, had decided the Constitutional Petition No 67 of 2011 over delays in the Nandipur project and formed a commission, which submitted its report on April 9, 2012.
According to the report, officers of the ministry of law and justice were mainly responsible for the delays. Subsequently, the apex court referred the matter to NAB.
The Nandipur project was approved by the Economic Coordination Committee on Dec 27, 2007, at a cost of $329 million.
After approval, the contract was signed on January 28, 2008, between the Northern Power Generation Company Limited and the Dong Fang Electric Corporation, China and two consortiums – Coface for 68.967 million euros and Sinosure for $150.151m – were set up for financing the project.
The water and power ministry sought legal opinion on the project from the law ministry in accordance with the schedule of the agreement in July 2009, but the accused repeatedly refused to do so.
The ministry of water and power also failed to take any concrete steps to resolve the issue and the matter remained pending.
According to details shared by NAB, the legal opinion was issued in November 2011 after Mr Awan was replaced as the law minister.
During the course of investigation, it was established that the accused committed the offense(s) of corruption and corrupt practice.
Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2018
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