LAHORE: An accountability court on Tuesday allowed a one-time exemption from personal appearance to Punjab Assembly Speaker Sibtain Khan in a corruption reference of awarding a contract for extraction of mines and minerals in Chiniot.

A counsel on behalf of the speaker told the court his client was unable to attend the hearing due to his responsibilities in the assembly. He asked the court to allow a one-time exemption to the applicant from personal appearance.

Judge Zubair Shahzad Kiyani allowed the application and adjourned the hearing till Oct 3. The judge directed the defence counsel to conclude his arguments on the jurisdiction of the court to hear the reference after the new amendments introduced in the National Accountability Ordinance 1999.

In this case, the court had dismissed acquittal applications of the speaker and other suspects with an observation that the suspects faced direct allegations of receiving illegal gratification and monetary gains.

The NAB alleged that Khan violated laws and awarded a multi-billion contract to a firm of his choice namely Earth Resource Private Limited during 2007 when he was provincial minister for mines and minerals in the PML-Q government.

The bureau stated the company that was given the contract had a paid-up capital of Rs2.5 million only and also lacked the experience required for the project. It said the company was not even registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and Khan signed the agreement ignoring the laws.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2022

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