The Punjab Higher Education Department on Friday told the Lahore High Court that the government had distributed laptops among students “purely on merit” under a development scheme.
This was stated in a written reply, submitted by the department’s special secretary, on a petition seeking judicial inquiry into allegations of corruption in the Punjab government’s free laptop scheme.
The reply said the laptops had been purchased through a transparent process. Advertisements were given in newspapers and then the contract was awarded to the lowest bidder, it read. The special secretary submitted that Transparency International had, in a report, expressed satisfaction over the procurement process of 110,000 laptops.
The laptops, said the government, were distributed on merit among students who fulfilled the eligibility criteria that was verified by a high-level committee. No violation of fundamental rights had been committed during the procurement of the laptops, the department claimed in its reply, requesting that the court dismiss the petition.
Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan adjourned the case till December 21 after directing the court staff to ensure the delivery of a court notice to Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president.
The court had issued a notice to Sharif at the last but was told on Friday that the notice was yet to be served.
The petition has been filed by a member of Peoples Lawyers Forum (PLF), Mian Shahid Abbas who contends that according to a Transparency International report, the laptop scheme would cause a loss of Rs1.70 billion to the exchequer.
He says the government had purchased each laptop at a price much higher than the market rate. He alleges that a laptop with the same specifications cost Rs25,000 but the government purchased it for Rs35,000.
The petitioner wants a judicial inquiry into the matter.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2012.