Judgement reserved in Nandipur project case

Updated 28 Feb 2020

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Former PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf of PPP is among accused. — Dawn/File
Former PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf of PPP is among accused. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: The accountability court, Islamabad, on Thursday reserved its judgement on the reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Nandipur power project case.

Ruling PTI leader Dr Babar Awan and former law secretary retired Justice Riaz Kiani were acquitted in the case last year by the then accountability court judge Mohammad Arshad Malik.

Judge Malik was later removed after a video scandal surfaced. Accountability judge Mohammad Azam Khan reserved the judgement on Thursday.

The accused in the case were PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, former federal secretary Masood Chishti, Shahid Rafi and other officials of the law and erstwhile ministry of water and power.

Concluding his arguments in the court, the defence counsel said that prosecution had failed to point out any pecuniary benefit. He said the case of the prosecution was that the government officials did not complete codal formalities in time for the Nandipur power project.

Former PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf of PPP is among accused

He said the recently promulgated presidential ordinance on NAB’s law categorically made it clear that misuse of authority could not be cited as an offence unless there was solid proof of getting financial benefit against some procedural lapses.

He pointed out that the prosecution had tabled the entire record related to the case in nine volumes, while key witnesses from ministries of energy, cabinet division and law and justice had recorded their statements.

He said there was not an iota of evidence connecting his clients with any delay or negligence in the power project.

He said the law ministry did not accord any approval for the project even after his client resigned as law minister.

The National Accountability Bureau, Rawalpindi, had on Sept 5, 2018, filed a reference against seven politicians and officials, contending that the project had faced a delay of two years, one month and 15 days, resulting in the loss of Rs27.3 billion to the national exchequer.

The project, situated in Gujranwala district, could not be completed and operated on time because the accused failed to issue legal opinion.

The Nandipur power project was approved by the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet on Dec 27, 2007, at a cost of $329 million. After the approval, a contract was signed on Jan 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 a legal opinion on the project from the law ministry in accordance with the schedule of agreement in July 2009, but the accused repeatedly refused to offer one.

The water and power ministry also failed to take any concrete step to resolve the issue and the matter remained pending.

Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2020