PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday directed the National Accountability Bureau to probe the ongoing bulk procurement ofRs6 billion worth of school furniture and other accessories by the elementary and secondary education department for irregularities, and produce its report in two weeks.

A bench consisting of Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Shakeel Ahmad directed NAB Khyber Pakhtunkhwa director-general Farooq Naser Awan to probe whether bidding for furniture procurement was transparent and whether any irregularity was committed in it.

It directed him to check who is supervising the procurement process and if it is transparent.

The bench fixed Dec 9 for next hearing into the case.

Gives NAB two weeks to produce inquiry report

The high court had taken suo moto notice of the issues related to furniture procurement for schools during hearing a petition filed by an organisation, Society for Access to Quality Education, seeking the court’s directives for the provincial government to enrol out-of-school children to implement Article 25-A of the Constitution.

The petitioner has claimed that hundreds of thousands of children of school age had not been admitted to educational institutions in the province.

The petitioner has also claimed that large number of government schools were without boundary walls, electricity, potable water and washrooms.

Additional advocate general Syed Sikandar Hayat Shah appeared for the provincial government, while the NAB director-general turned up on the court’s notice.

The elementary and secondary education (E&SE) department had floated a tender on May 19, 2021, in newspapers and invited bids from furniture manufacturers and authorised dealers from across the country for the procurement of various goods, including furniture, during the period of one year commencing from the date of entering upon the contract with the successful bidders.

The chief justice observed that earlier the court had ordered the government around two years ago for provision of the missing facilities in the government schools at the earliest.

Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid observed that the provision of basic facilities to government educational institutions was the prime responsibility of the government. He observed that students had been sitting on jute mates while getting education in government schools of the province.

AAG Syed Sikandar informed the bench that the bidding process had completed and the stage of the provision of furniture and other items to educational institutions was in progress.

The bench observed that the contract valued billions of rupees and it was the concern of the court to ensure transparency in its award.

The bench directed the NAB to see as to who was awarded the contract and whether the contractor was close to any influential person or not.

The chief justice also asked the bureau to check whether the quality of furniture and other procured items was up to the mark.

From time to time, the chief justice has been issuing directives regarding education system in the province especially that of missing facilities in schools, out-of-school children, and weight of school bags.

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2021

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