Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Government making mistakes upon mistakes: SC -

ISLAMABAD - Supreme Court Justice Jawwad S Khawaja on Wednesday said the "government is committing mistakes upon mistakes".

"An illiterate person can commit mistakes, but highly-educated persons are committing mistakes while being in the government".

A three-member bench of Supreme Court (SC) presided over by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry resumed hearing in the Lakhra power project case on Wednesday.

Justice Khawaja said, "Earlier, the Ministry of Water and Power admitted their mistake and now it is being stated by WAPDA Chairman Tariq Hamid that he had committed mistake and had not advertised the issue. What mistakes should we overlook? Enough is enough and national institutions will not be allowed to be sold out".

The court nullified Lakhra power project lease besides ordering holding an investigation into the accord and determination of civil or criminal case.

Water and Power Secretary Saifullah Chatha told the court that the government had postponed the decision on privatisation of Lakhra power project.

Justice Azmat Sheikh asked if the government had postponed or withdrawn the decision.

The secretary said the would be kept postponed unless reservations over the project were removed. "No decision will be taken as long as the case remains pending with the court," he said.

The court ordered the official to file a statement on postponing the privatisation process in writing.

The CJP said, "The thing called transparency is nowhere in the agreement. PEPRA rules were trampled. An attempt was made to sell out national institutions at throwaway rates. Where is transparency when the president and prime minister had already assigned agreement to the Associated Group."

The counsel for CBA union, Tariq Mehmood, took the plea that the employees union was also a party against privatisation of the Lakhra project. "The employees opposed the privatisation on basis of statistics."

The CJP remarked, "If the former chairman of WAPDA is responsible for privatisation of the power project, proceedings will be initiated against him as well. He can face civil and criminal cases. This project is a national asset, not a grocery shop that it is sold out to any per someone's will."

"Why do people not learn lessons from the past? The example of rental power case is before us."

Lakhra power project's counsel Shahid Hamid said, "Businessmen in our country were very powerful."

To this, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed said, "No one can be more powerful than law and constitution."

The CJP told Shahid Hamid, "You could not satisfy the court during the last three days with regard to transparency in the award of contract for Lakhra power project."

Justice Khawaja added, "It seems you are the counsel for Associated Group rather than WAPDA."

The additional attorney general (AAG) requested the court to allow the federal government to privatise the project.

The CJP said, "If the federation wants privatisation of Lakhra power project, where will the interests of Sindh stand? The federation privatised Lakhra power project by overlooking the interests of Sindh."

Wasim Sajjad, counsel for the Associated Group, said the federation had issued NOC in respect of the project.

The court later scrapped the lease of Lakhra power project by declaring it null and void, adding that the project lease agreement could not be maintained.

"Investigation be held and civil and criminal cases be determined," the court ordered.
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