Two former prime ministers once again managed to circumvent indictment on Tuesday as the accountability court hearing the case of the former Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) chief’s appointment adjourned proceedings.
Judge Muhammad Bashir, who is hearing the case, was informed at the start of proceedings by the counsel of former premiers Raja Pervez Ashraf and Yousaf Raza Gilani that he was unwell and would not be able to argue the case.
Former law minister Farooq H Naek, representing the high-profile accused, prayed the court to give him some time to recover from his illness. The court accepted his request and adjourned the case till September 9.
The court also adjourned the hearing of four references filed against former president Asif Ali Zardari.
At the last hearing on July 16, the indictment of the former prime ministers was delayed as the judge did not appear for the hearing.
The two former Pakistan People’s Party premiers are accused of illegally appointing Ayaz Sadiq as Ogra chairman.
On January 24 this year, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filed two references, one relating to Sadiq’s appointment in 2009 and another relating to corruption and irregularities committed during his tenure, with the accountability court.
The judge is expected to read out charges against the accused during the indictment after which a formal trial would begin if the accused plead not guilty. Gilani is accused of appointing Sadiq while Ashraf, who was the water and power minister at the time, was the head of the selection committee that selected the candidate.
NAB had started investigation into the Ogra scam on the directives of the Supreme Court in November 2011.
The bureau has accused Sadiq of placing an additional burden worth billions of rupees on gas consumers and issuing licences for setting up CNG stations across the country in return for kickbacks.
On November 25, 2012, the apex court struck down the appointment of Sadiq, who then fled to the UAE.
Sadiq, currently on bail, was arrested in Abu Dhabi and brought back to Pakistan on July 9, 2013.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2014.