Pemra chief seeks acquittal in ads contracts reference

Updated Jan 14 2020

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Former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani is also an accused in the case. — Dawn/File
Former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani is also an accused in the case. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) chairman Mirza Saleem Baig has filed an application in an accountability court, seeking acquittal in a reference relating to alleged irregularity committed in the award of advertising contracts.

Accountability judge Azam Khan took up the application. Former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani is also an accused in the case.

The counsel for Mr Baig informed the court that his client was the principal information officer and he had awarded the contract to an advertising agency in accordance with routine practice. However, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) nominated Mr Baig as an accused in the case for awarding the contract in contradiction with procurement rules.

The Pemra chief’s counsel pointed out that the recent amendment to the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 had defined the parameters for implicating a government servant in a corruption case, adding that under the law, NAB could not proceed in this matter against Mr Baig.

The court was scheduled to indict the accused persons; however, the indictment has been delayed till Jan 30 since one of the accused persons, Inam Akbar, could not be produced.

The prosecution informed the court that Mr Akbar was in the custody of NAB in Karachi and is being investigated.

The court directed NAB to produce all the accused persons at the next hearing. Judge Khan also directed the bureau to file by Jan 30 a reply to the application seeking acquittal of Mr Baig.

NAB had nominated seven accused, including Yousuf Raza Gilani, Mirza Saleem Baig, Inam Akber and Farooq Awan, in the reference.

They are accused of misusing their authority in granting a campaign contract illegally to a Lahore-based advertising agency. The reference stated that no competition was held to grant the contract to the agency, which was totally against the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority rules.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2020