In an effort to deflect the apex court’s ire, commerce minister and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Makhdoom Amin Fahim said that former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was responsible for the appointment of Ayaz Khan Niazi as National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) chairman.
“It is an incorrect impression that the minister is the appointing authority,” said Fahim’s counsel SM Zafar while addressing a three-judge bench of the apex court on Friday.
Fahim only gave approval for a summary of a panel of three candidates, even though he was not willing to appoint Niazi as chairman NICL, Zafar said during Friday’s hearing of the suo motu case of the Rs5.34 billion NICL scam.
The bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, however, once again directed the commerce secretary and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to proceed against Fahim regarding Niazi’s appointment as chairman NICL and a transaction of Rs41.5 million between Niazi and Fahim’s accounts.
The court, at an earlier hearing on May 24, had called for legal proceedings against Fahim.
Reprimanding commerce secretary
The court reprimanded Secretary Commerce Zafar Mahmood for not initiating proceedings against those who were responsible for the illegal appointment of Niazi as chairman NICL. Mahmood asked the court to give him directions, and said he will comply.
“Go and discharge your duty. Don’t camouflage anything otherwise we will put you to task,” the chief justice said.
Mahmood admitted before the bench that section 12 of Insurance Ordinance 2000 was violated in Niazi’s appointment, but was hesitant to hold Fahim responsible for it.
The secretary informed the court three persons – two civil servants and Niazi – submitted their applications for the post. For appointment of a private person as chairman NICL, the post should have been advertised which was not done in Niazi’s case, the secretary said.
The chief justice said that cases of persons responsible for this violation should have been sent to FIA or NAB
Meanwhile Niazi’s counsel, Tariq Asad defended his client’s appointment, saying his client had the required experience and qualification.
Besides, if there was a violation of an ordinance, then the persons who had appointed him should be held responsible, Asad said.
Meanwhile, FIA Director Karachi Moazzam Jah informed the court that his investigation revealed that there was a financial nexus between Fahim and Niazi.
Jah submitted a report saying Niazi’s appointment was made in contravention of the Insurance Ordinance 2000.
He also explained how the money was transferred to Fahim and his family’s accounts at the Standard Chartered Bank. He informed the bench that the entire loss incurred in the purchase of 10 acres of land in Korangi Town, Karachi, has been recovered.
The NICL purchased a 10-acre plot in Korangi Town at Rs900 million, while the actual value of the plot was Rs410 million, causing a loss of Rs490 million to the company. Jah informed the court that Rs490 million was transferred in 16 different accounts, including the Rs41.5 million in Fahim’s family account.
PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and former interior minister Rehman Malik also appeared before the bench in person regarding Justice (retd) Ghulam Rabbani’s findings against them. The chief justice asked them to engage their lawyers instead.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2012.
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