ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) is likely to take up appeals of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against the acquittal of newly-appointed Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin in the Rental Power Projects (RPPs) case on June 1.
Sources said the IHC’s registrar office had initiated a note for fixing NAB’s appeals against acquittal of Mr Tarin, former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and others in two corruption references related to Sahuwal and Pirangheb RPPs.
They said it had been proposed that the appeals might be taken up in June subject to the government’s policy on Covid-19.
The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has imposed a smart lockdown to slow down the spread of coronavirus till May 19.
The hearing is subject to lifting of the lockdown, which means if the government extends the lockdown the hearing may be rescheduled.
Recently, the IHC fixed appeals of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and retired Captain Mohammad Safdar against their conviction in the Avenfield reference.
This is because Justice Aamir Farooq of the IHC, who was heading a two-member division bench, said while hearing NAB’s plea seeking early disposal of the appeals that cases related to conviction, and not acquittal, will be heard during the smart lockdown.
Subsequently, the plea for fixing NAB’s appeals against acquittal of Shaukat Tarin by the accountability court was not fixed by the IHC.
In a recent reshuffle in the federal cabinet, Tarin was given the portfolio of federal minister for finance. Mr Tarin has also been picked as a member of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC), headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
After the sacking of Abdul Hafeez Shaikh as the finance minister, Mr Tarin had emerged as a strong candidate to head the finance ministry and he had been offered to join the federal cabinet, but he linked his joining the cabinet with the verdict on the appeal in the IHC.
Mr Tarin is accused of approving the RPPs contracts.
The accountability watchdog had filed the case in 2014 against Mr Ashraf, Mr Tarin, former federal secretaries Ismail Qureshi and Shahid Rafi, former managing director of the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) Tahir Basharat Cheema and directors of Pepco Razi Abbas, Wazir Ali Bhaio, Saleem Arif, Abdul Qadeer Khan and Iqbal Ali Shah.
An Accountability Court of Islamabad last year acquitted former prime minister Ashraf, former finance minister Tarin, some former bureaucrats and directors of a power holding company in the Sahuwal and Pirangheb Rental Power Projects case.
Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2021