KP government to move Supreme Court against FIA bus project probe

Updated 24 Dec 2019

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The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to move the Supreme Court against a recent Peshawar High Court order for the Federal Investigation Agency to probe the alleged irregularities in the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit project within 45 days. — Abdul Majeed Goraya/File
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to move the Supreme Court against a recent Peshawar High Court order for the Federal Investigation Agency to probe the alleged irregularities in the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit project within 45 days. — Abdul Majeed Goraya/File

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to move the Supreme Court against a recent Peshawar High Court order for the Federal Investigation Agency to probe the alleged irregularities in the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit project within 45 days.

Provincial advocate general Shumail Ahmad Butt told reporters on Friday that the government had prepared a civil petition for leave to appeal (CPLA) against the high court judgment delivered on Nov 14 that would be filed in the Supreme Court next week.

He said the CPLA had raised different legal points about the PHC order besides questioning the suo motu powers of the high court bench.

A high court bench consisting of Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Ahmad Ali had decided on Nov 14 three petitions related to the BRT project affairs.

Appeal to be filed against PHC order next week

Two petitioners, including Fazal Karim Afridi and Adnan Afridi, had challenged the raising of different structures of the project adjacent to their houses in Hayatabad Township.

Another petitioner, advocate Isa Khan, had requested the court to order the construction of overhead bridges or under-passes for pedestrians at a distance of not more than 100 meters.

The bench had formulated 35 points asking the FIA to probe it and act against the delinquents if found in the inquiry report.

The advocate general said the National Accountability Bureau had already conducted an inquiry into the BRT affairs and Supreme Court had stayed those proceedings by the NAB last year.

He wondered when the issue was pending with the apex court, how the high court could order another agency to probe it.

Mr Butt said 35 points raised by the bench were not mentioned in any of the three petitions, so the bench had exercised suo moto powers.

He said the apex court had already decided that the high court had no constitutional powers to take suo moto notices.

The advocate general said another bench of the high court had declared the BRT project in Dec 2017 in accordance with the law following which another bench should not have given findings on the same points.

A high court bench headed by Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth had also ordered the National Accountability Bureau on Jul 17, 2018, for conducting proper investigation and inquiry into the BRT affairs.

However, the provincial government and Peshawar Development Authority had filed the CPLA in the Supreme Court requesting to set aside the said order.

A bench of the apex court headed by then Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar suspended the high court order on Sept 4, 2018, so the findings of the initial inquiry conducted by NAB couldn’t see light of the day.

As over a year has passed since the apex court stayed the high court judgment, the appeal has so far not been decided.

In the high court judgment, one of the points referred to a special BRT cell in the transport department wherein consultants and other human resources were hired but despite that, the project was given to the Peshawar Development Authority.

The court observed that weekly meetings about the project were convened in the Chief Minister’s House and despite that the project was not coordinated well, resulting in loss to the public exchequer.

It added that the there was a need for studying why important decisions about consultancies and related matters were taken even before the project was approved.

The court wondered why the project’s principal consultants were paid Rs20 million despite inadequate planning and poor work, which led to repeated project changes and cost escalations.

It also observed why the decision to procure 200 buses was made when only 65 buses were used in Punjab for longer route.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2019