The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority’s (Ogra) ex-chairman Tauqir Sadiq on Saturday challenged his conviction and three-year sentence for multi-billion corruption in Islamabad High Court (IHC).
In his petition, filed through his counsel Sardar Asmatullah Advocate, Sadiq said that the accountability court did not give him the chance to defend the allegations levelled against him. He claimed that his case was not decided on merit and that the subsequent three-year jail term was unjust.
On May 7, an accountability court had sentenced Sadiq for three years in jail in-absentia “for failing to appear before the court.” It had also directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to seize all his moveable and immoveable property and bank accounts.
Sadiq is accused of embezzling Rs83 billion through issuance of the CNG licences and mismanagement. He is currently in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau.
An IHC official privy to the development informed that the Ogra former chief had pleaded that his conviction be removed and all orders of the accountability court pertaining to the seizure of his property be declared null and void.
“All convictions made in-absentia are usually turned down by the court after the accused finally makes his appearance before the court,” said a NAB officer, adding that the high court would most likely remove his conviction.
The high court was yet to fix a date of hearing for Sadiq’s petition challenging his conviction.
Sadiq had fled the country soon after the Supreme Court declared his appointment as illegal and ordered NAB to initiate a criminal investigation against him. The NAB preliminary investigation report suggested that Sadiq misappropriated Rs83 billion in issuance of CNG licenses to different companies.
He was also accused of raising the quota for gas which caused extra Rs44 billion loss to public exchequer. The NAB was only able to arrest Sadiq from Abu Dhabi earlier this month after he remained on the run for over a year.
“The court gives every accused the opportunity to defend himelf so Sadiq would also be given the chance,” said a NAB officer. He said that even the accountability court would have revoked his sentence and conviction if he had appeared before the court.
Sadiq denied all allegations against him in the accountability court on July 10 after the NAB presented him before the judge for obtaining his physical remand.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2013.