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Ex-PM challenges cancellation of contracts

April 14, 2013

ISLAMABAD, April 13: Former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Saturday challenged in the Supreme Court the April 8 order of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) cancelling the contract for two road projects in his home constituency of Gujar Khan.

The IHC had cancelled the contract awarded to the National Logistics Cell (NLC) for the construction of the Mandra-Chakwal and Sohawa-Chakwal roads in NA-51.

The IHC had directed the return of Rs3.5 billion released to the NLC for the projects besides ordering a reference to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for an investigation.

The high court had also directed the electoral authorities to consider “whether Raja Pervez Ashraf can be believed as sagacious, righteous, honest, upright, trustworthy and Ameen.”

Against the decision, the former prime minister instituted an intra-court appeal with the IHC which was also dismissed on April 8.

Moved by Advocate Wasim Sajjad in the SC on behalf of the former prime minister, the petition pleaded that the directions given to NAB as well as the returning officers were beyond the scope of the high court. Such a direction is bound to affect the election process as well as the candidature of the petitioner which is not envisaged either under the electoral law or under Article 218 of the constitution.

Referring to the award of the contract to the NLC, the petition pleaded that the NLC was not an organisation of the armed forces rather it worked under the administrative control of the Planning and Development Division.

There was no personal interest involved in the assignment of the work to the NLC, the petition pleaded, adding the high court was not competent to direct that the project be executed by the PWD, instead of the NLC.

“It is a settled principle of law that the high court cannot question the policy of the government in its constitutional jurisdiction,” the petition said, adding assigning the project by the prime minister on October 2, 2012, to a government organisation - NLC - was not the subject matter of a public interest litigation as the interest of the public was involved in the construction of the roads.

The petition also contended that the single judge of the high court had passed very harsh and uncalled for remarks against the petitioner like: “A naked corruption, polluted mannerism, offensive to public exchequer, an infringement to constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights, glaring example of discrimination, favouritism, nepotism ulterior motives and stinking approach to advance personal agenda etc.”

All these remarks were passed without listening to the viewpoint of the petitioner and giving him any opportunity to explain.

“The petitioner has been condemned unheard by the single judge of the high court,” the petition said.

The counsel pleaded that serious allegations had been levelled against the petitioner which were based on assumptions.