Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Monday withdrew his review petition against the Supreme Court verdict in the rental power projects (RPPs) case.
On January 15, the apex court had ordered the arrest of all the respondents in the case including the premier.
A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heard the petitions filed by power companies and the federal government. During Monday’s proceedings, PM Ashraf’s counsel Waseem Sajjad informed the court about his client’s decision.
Earlier, the federal government and different power companies had filed review petitions against the Supreme Court’s judgment in the RPPs case. On the request of the PM’s counsel, the court disposed of the review application. The court will now take up the RPPs implementation case on January 23.
A member of the government’s legal team said Ashraf withdrew his review petition on the grounds that he would indirectly be defended through the federal government’s review petition in the case.
However, Justice Chaudhry clarified that even though review petitions were pending against the verdict in the RPPs case, the petitions would not affect the implementation process of the judgment. The chief justice also made it clear that “though money was deposited in the national exchequer, criminal proceedings would continue against all the accused, who were allegedly involved in corruption.”
Ashraf was water and power minister in 2008. Of the 19 RPP deals signed initially, only nine were allowed to function after an unflattering Asian Development Bank evaluation report. Subsequently, six of those nine RPPs were discontinued.
During Monday proceedings, the court also issued notices to Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) on a review petition, filed by Kamoky Rental Power Plant. The counsel for Kamoky Rental Power Plant company, Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, contended that his client had not received any advance payment while the company had spent Rs3 billion from its own pockets.
Last week, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman aggressively defended the bureau’s progress in the RPPs case, saying it was NAB’s prerogative to conduct an investigation and that the court had no powers to intervene in the investigation.
Pirzada also suggested the court allow functional power plants to produce electricity because it would be beneficial for the public. The court asked the Pirzada to recommend the concerned authorities in this regard since they were not running the government.
The counsel representing the federal government, Khawaja Tariq Rahim, said that the government had stopped the process of approval and execution of power projects after the court’s March 30, 2012 judgments on RPPs. He requested the court to provide the government time to consult with the concerned authorities about the Kamoky Plant.
The court adjourned the case till February 18.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2013.