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ISLAMABAD, March 28: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday cancelled the contract awarded to the National Logistics Cell (NLC) for the construction of roads in the constituency of former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.

The court directed the NLC to return the Rs3.6 billion to the Public Works Department (PWD).

The PWD on October 10, 2012, had awarded the contract to the NLC for the construction of Mandra-Chakwal and Sohawa-Chakwal roads in NA-51 Gujar Khan.

The award of contract, however, was challenged in the IHC in the same month by Gondal Construction and M.N. Construction companies. The court on November 5 ‘restrained’ the PWD from releasing the funds to the NLC.

However, on March 16, the PWD released the Rs3.6 billion despite the restraining orders.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on March 25 issued show-cause notices to the PWD senior officials, including its director general, for flouting the court orders.

On Thursday, when the court was about to decide the matter, Shah Khawar advocate, the counsel for M.N. Construction, wanted to withdraw the petition.

“My client is not interested in continuing the case and has instructed me to withdraw it,” he said.

Justice Siddiqui, however, rejected his request and said the petition could not be withdrawn when the court had concluded hearing the arguments and was about to announce its verdict.

Instead of allowing the withdrawal of the petition, the court may fine the petitioner Rs2 million and ask him to deposit the amount in the sweet homes orphanage.

During the hearing, Syed Nayyab Hassan Gardezi, the counsel for Gondal Construction, said his client had also applied for the contract. After fulfilling initial requirements, it did some feasibility work but was astonished by the PWD’s sudden decision of awarding the contract to the NLC.

“Awarding the contract to the NLC was a violation of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules that stipulate that the bidding process should ensure the widest possible competition and not favour any contractor,” he added.

The court gave the PWD 30 days for the selection of a suitable company for the execution of the development project.

The court also took up the contempt petition filed against PWD director general Shah Din Sheikh, superintendent Sohail Akhtar and executive engineer Atiquur Rehman who were respondents in the case along with Federal treasury officer Tasawar Hussain and acting treasury officer Zahid Mughal.

Justice Siddiqui deferred further proceedings till April 5 when he would decide the indictment of the PWD officials.