Apex court orders arrest of former Ogra chief -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Apex court orders arrest of former Ogra chief

ISLAMABAD: Reminding the National Accountability Bureau of its real job of eliminating corruption from society, the Supreme Court recalled on Tuesday that Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf was head of the board which selected Tauqir Sadiq as chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra).

“The NAB always nets small fries but spares big fish,” observed a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain which had taken up a case against the appointment of Mr Sadiq, a close relative of PPP’s secretary general Jehangir Badar.

Raja Pervez Ashraf, in his capacity as water and power minister and chairman of the interview board, had forwarded the documents of Mr Sadiq to then prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for appointment. Mr Sadiq went into hiding after the Supreme Court’s Nov 25, 2011, verdict in which it had declared that the appointment was illegal and directed NAB to investigate corruption cases against him.

The court issued the ruling on a petition filed by Mohammad Yasin challenging the eligibility of Mr Sadiq, who was asked to return all salary and privileges drawn from the public exchequer during his tenure as Ogra chairman.

On Tuesday, the court also ordered NAB to immediately arrest Tauqir Sadiq and initiate legal proceedings in accordance with the law. The bureau is required to submit by Thursday a comprehensive report highlighting progress in the matter.

The NAB’s Deputy Prosecutor General, Fauzi Kazmi, submitted details of terms of reference and minutes of the bureau’s executive board meetings about Tauqir Sadiq’s appointment. He informed the court that a reference against Sadiq was ready and would be filed in two days, but added that NAB had so far been unable to trace Tauqir Sadiq.

Mr Kazmi indicated that Sadiq might be staying somewhere in Lahore under the protection of Punjab police. The court asked NAB to arrest Sadiq at all cost irrespective of the fact wherever he was staying. He should be produced before the court along with the reference against him.

In an earlier report, NAB held Tauqir Sadiq responsible for causing a loss of Rs83 billion to the exchequer in collaboration with Member Gas Mansoor Muzaffar Ali and Member Finance Mir Kamal Marri. Ogra under his stewardship issued 306 licences in 2009-10 and 170 in 2010-11 to open new CNG stations in violation of a ban imposed by the government in 2008 because of severe gas shortages.

Sadiq also increased the benchmark of unaccounted for gas (UFG) from 4.5 to seven per cent against the global practices without explaining the basis and rationale behind it, which resulted in irrational and unjustified benefits to gas companies.

The NAB report said Rs87.28 million damage was caused by illegal stay orders in gas theft cases by Mansoor Ali, of which Rs56.46 million were still recoverable. It said an estimated loss of Rs22 billion was caused to the national kitty after Ogra increased wellhead gas price from $2.80 to $3.9 per mmbtu.