Raising questions over the accumulation of fortunes by advertising and media company Midas Private Limited, the Supreme Court on Monday questioned whether the federal government has the authority to retain the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting after the 18th Amendment.
A two-judge bench comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain on Monday resumed preliminary hearing of petitions filed by various TV anchors, including Hamid Mir, Absar Alam and others, who sought formation of a commission to probe the allegations against media persons.
The bench rejected a plea of the provincial government of Punjab to ask the interior ministry to present the chief executive of Midas Private Limited in the Supreme Court. It maintained the issue should be taken up with the relevant forum.
Midas Private Limited is alleged to have amassed undeclared wealth.
Securities and Exchange Commission Deputy Registrar Muzaffar Sheikh told the bench that a detailed report of the company’s finances has been sought, but not yet submitted by the accused.
According to the initial report, the company’s revenue grew from Rs620 million in 2010 to over Rs1 billion at present. There are, however, no details about increase in its fortunes.
Justice Khawaja questioned why action was not being taken against perpetrators and asked authorities to reveal the names of those creating obstacles in investigations. He, however, turned down a request of placing the owners of Midas on the Exit Control List (ECL).
To a question put forward by the counsel for Midas Limited Yasin Azad, the bench said the court did not want to indict the advertising company, but wanted to go through the details.
The bench also directed the counsel of the federation to submit details of expenditures of supplementary grants released to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting during the last three financial years. Petitioner Absar Alam told the bench that the ministry has released Rs1 billion to advertising and media companies during the current fiscal year, but no details are available on the matter.
Regular hearings on the secret fund of the information ministry will begin from September 27.
(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2012.
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