Babar Awan acquitted in Nandipur Power Project case
June 25, 2019
ISLAMABAD (92 News) – An accountability court in Islamabad on Tuesday acquitted former law minister Babar Awan and rejected the acquittal plea of former premier Raja Pervez Ashraf in the Nandipur Power Project case. Accountability Court Judge Arshad Malik announced its verdict in an acquittal plea of five accused persons – including Babar Awan, former premier Raja Pervez Ashraf, ex-consultant Shumaila Mehmood, former law secretary Riaz Kiyani, and former joint secretary Dr Riaz Mehmood. The court acquitted Babar Awan and former law secretary Riaz Kiyani in the case, while rejected other accused case. Earlier, the court will decide the fate of five accused persons – including Babar Awan, former premier Raja Pervez Ashraf, ex-consultant Shumaila Mehmood, former law secretary Riaz Kiyani, and former joint secretary Dr Riaz Mehmood – who filed acquittal pleas in the Nandipur reference. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior leader and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) stalwart including five accused pleaded to the court for their acquittal. Meanwhile, the court had fixed June 25 as the date for announcing its judgment. On Marach 11, the accountability Court Judge Arshad Malik framed charges against former federal minister Babar Awan, former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and other accused in the Nandipur power project case. The judge remarked that he wants to dispose the reference at the earliest. Meanwhile, the court has decided to try the case on daily basis. The Nandipur reference was filed against seven politicians and government officials in September last year. The accused include ex-PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Babar Awan, former law secretaries Muhammad Masood Chishti and Justice (retd) Riaz Kiyani, ex-research consultant for the law ministry Shamila Mahmood, ex-senior joint secretary of the law ministry Dr Riaz Mahmood and ex-secretary of the Water and Power Ministry Shahid Rafi. In the reference, NAB contended that the project located in Gujranwala had been delayed for two years, one month and 15 days, causing a loss of Rs27.3 billion to the national exchequer. It maintained that the project was not completed on time because the accused failed to issue their legal opinions. It said the Supreme Court had earlier decided constitutional petition No 67 of 2011 – which pertained to delays in the Nandipur project – and formed a commission under Justice (Retd) Rehmat Hussain Jafri to ascertain reasons for the persistent delay. The report submitted on April 9, 2012 held the accused responsible and the SC then referred the matter to NAB. The Nandipur Power Project was approved by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on December 27, 2007, at an estimated cost of $329 million. A contract was then signed on January 28, 2008, between the Northern Power Generation Company Limited (NPGCL) and the Dong Fang Electric Corporation (DEC) from China. Two consortiums – Coface for 68.967 million Euros and Sinosure for $150.151 million – were set up to finance the project. The Water and Power Ministry then sought legal opinion on the project from the law ministry, but the accused repeatedly ignored the request. The Ministry of Water and Power also failed to take any concrete steps to resolve these issue, and the matter remained pending. According to NAB, after Awan was replaced as the law minister, the legal opinion was issued on November 2011. The inordinate and malafide delay caused a huge losses of over Rs27 billion to the national exchequer, said the anti-graft body. The reference was then filed by NAB Rawalpindi’s Investigation Officer Asma Chaudhry.