|SC orders commerce secretary, FIA to examine cases of Fahim, other accused|
25 May 2012
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Thursday said the court was recovering millions of rupees of the looted money but some people were criticising such actions. The Supreme Court also directed the commerce secretary and FIA director legal, Karachi, to examine the cases of all the accused, including Federal Minister for Commerce Makhdom Amin Fahim, allegedly involved in the National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) scam and proceed with the case as per the law.
A three-member bench of the apex court, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Amir Hani Muslim, was hearing a suo moto case regarding the violation of Public Procurement Rules 2004, in procurement, causing losses of billions of rupees to the public exchequer by the NICL.
The court also issued notices to the incumbent and former chairmen of the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) to explain their position on the illegal appointment of Muhammad Ayyaz Niazi as the chairman of the National Insurance Company Limited (NICL). The court observed that prima facie, the appointment of Muhammad Ayyaz Niazi as the NICL chairman was made contrary to Section 12 of the Insurance Ordinance 2000, and the persons responsible for his appointment had made criminal negligence, which could be proceeded as per the law.
During the hearing, the chief justice observed that the court, through its legal proceedings, was recovering millions of looted money but some people were criticising such actions.
Appearing on notice, FIA Director Karachi, Moazzam Jah, told the court that so far, Rs2.2 billion had been recovered while Rs409 million had been recovered in another case. He said Rs41 million was transferred to Amin Fahim’s account, jointly shared by his wife Rizwana Amin Fahim and son Jaliluz Zaman. Moazam Jah further said that the amount was obtained after selling a plot under the NICL. The money was later returned.
Jah told the court that out of the 13 accused in the case, nine had been arrested while four were absconding abroad, adding that their red warrants had been issued through the Interpol and efforts were under way to arrest them.
Commerce Secretary Zafar Mahmood presented before the court a file regarding the appointment of Ayyaz Khan Niazi as the NICL chairman. He contended that three names, including Muhamamd Ayyaz Niazi, Naveed Arif and Aneesul Hassan, were proposed in the summary forwarded to the prime minister for the appointment of NICL chairman. He submitted that the PM approved the name of Ayyaz Khan Niazi on February 10, 2009, and later on February 12, a formal notification regarding the appointment of the NICL chairman was issued.
The chief justice, however, observed that the ministry approved an illegal summary and ordered that a report be submitted to the court which entails the details of transactions made under the scam and explain why an illegal summary, signed by Amin Fahim, was forwarded to Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani for approval. The CJ noted that the Commerce Minister appointed Ayyaz Niazi despite the fact he was ineligible for the post. The commerce secretary, however, replied that the government could appoint anyone as chairman as it holds maximum shares in the company. “How can the government appoint a person who is not eligible?” Justice Jawad S Khawaja asked.
“You could have proceeded against the wrongdoings, but you did not even intimate the attorney general in this regard,” the CJ told the commerce secretary. “How do you and the minister have unbridled powers to appoint such an inefficient person as NICL chairman?”
The commerce secretary, however, replied that former commerce secretary Salman Ghani had moved Ayyaz Niazi’s summary to the PM, approved by the minister for commerce. He said that Salman Ghani was now retired.
The chief justice, however, admonished the commerce secretary and said that retirement does not mean that a person be spared. At one point, when the chief justice asked the secretary why he was not proceeding against the commerce minister, he replied that the Law Ministry was capable of proceeding with the law.
At this, the chief justice said the prime minister was convicted not because he was advised on the summary moved by the Law Ministry but because of his failure to render his responsibilities.
During the course of hearing, the chief justice also admonished Karachi FIA Director Moaazam Jah for failing to produce before the court the statement of Federal Minister of Commerce Makhdoom Amin Fahim. The FIA director told the court that he had not brought the file. The CJ observed that Amin Fahim’s statement was very much important in the instant case. “Sorry to say that you are protecting the beneficiary,” the chief justice told Moaazam Jah.
The chief justice further observed that the minister, secretary and chairman of the NICL had collective responsibilities in this case. The court adjourned the hearing till June 7.
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