Thatta water supply reference: AC postpones Zardari’s indictment

August 05, 2020

Court seeks NAB reply to plea for dismissal of reference; counsel for ex-president does not appear in court; Zardari granted exemption from court appearanceObaid Abrar Khan & Imdad SoomroISLAMABAD:...

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Court seeks NAB reply to plea for dismissal of reference; counsel for ex-president does not appear in court; Zardari granted exemption from court appearance

Obaid Abrar Khan & Imdad Soomro

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court Tuesday postponed indictment of former president Asif Ali Zardari in the Thatta water supply reference until August 7.

Judge Muhammad Azam Khan sought a reply from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Zardari’s plea seeking dismissal of the reference.

The judge granted exemption to Asif Ali Zardari from court appearance. Zardari’s lawyer Farooq H. Naek did not appear before the court due to which the proceedings were deferred.

According to the NAB, the instant case pertains to illegal award of a contract by the Special Initiative Department for water supply scheme, Thatta to a private contractor, Harish & Co.

Last year in December Zardari was released after being granted bail by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on medical grounds.

In the said reference, the bureau has also nominated Ejaz Ahmed Khan, former secretary of the Special Initiative Department of Sindh; Hassan Ally Memon, project director and chairman of the procurement committee for the same water supply scheme, and members of the committee, private contractor Harish, Omni Group CEO Khawaja Abdul Ghani Majeed, and his wife Menahel Majeed.

Menhal Majeed in this reference has been declared as a proclaimed offender.

The reference alleges that some accused persons created fake accounts and purchased plots with ill-gotten money. On February 16, 2017, the Supreme Court (SC) imposed a ban on the functioning of the SID and ordered removal of its secretary.

A three-member bench, headed by Justice Ameer Hani Muslim, which was hearing a suo motu notice case taken against illegal appointments in Thar Coal Authority, had ruled that the directives of chief minister could not be a substitute for the rules of business.

The apex court had questioned the working of SID and allocation of funds without rules of business.

The apex court in its order ruled that the secretary SID should be removed and barred SID from functioning, adding that all development schemes should be given to the relevant departments.

In the same year, the Supreme Court also directed the Sindh chief secretary to conduct an inquiry into all projects and schemes, costing Rs105 billion being undertaken by the Sindh Coal Authority (SCA) and the Special Initiative Department (SID).

The top court also expressed dissatisfaction with implementing projects worth Rs105 billion by the SCA and SID by bypassing the established methods of checks and balances, circumventing the prescribed manner of implementing and executing the projects and schemes.

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