Litigation has already cost Rs45m, says Nadra | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Litigation has already cost Rs45m, says Nadra

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) on Tuesday claimed that litigation in the smart national identity card project had so far cost the authority Rs45 million, and the public would face inconvenience if the case was not decided soon.

The application was filed before a division bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for early disposal of the intra-court appeal against a previous judgment of the IHC single bench.

On October 9 this year, the single bench had dismissed a petition filed by Karachi-based firm SCT Group.

The firm had alleged that the tender process for the procurement of 20 million smart cards was aimed at favouring certain bidders.

However, after the court dismissed the petition, Nadra awarded the contract for the procurement of smart cards to a private firm Sagem Morpho.

Meanwhile, the firm filed an intra-court appeal against the previous judgment, and on October 28, an IHC division bench maintained status quo in the matter.

The process for the procurement of the smart card also came to a standstill.

In the petition filed on Tuesday, Afnan Karim Kundi, Nadra’s counsel, adopted before the bench comprising Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan and Justice Noorul Haq N.

Qureshi that prior to the IHC restraining order, Nadra had already issued the purchase order for the first consignment of 5million smart cards.

He added that the irrevocable letter of credit had also been opened on October 14, 2013.

He said, “Due to the status quo order, the entire process has come to a grinding halt, and Nadra may not be able to meet its contractual obligations resulting in a grave financial loss.”

He said the authority had already incurred an additional cost of Rs45 million due to the Rupee-Dollar disparity.

Mr Kundi also stated that the available stock of smart cards was running out and without the fresh procurement, the authority would be unable to issue identity cards.

In the earlier hearing on October 28, the counsel of SCT group, Ashtar Ausaf, had contended before the division bench that the initial petition had been discarded by the single-bench judgment which held that the petitioner (SCT group) had no ‘locus standi’ (right to speak) in the matter.

However, he maintained that it was not a matter of being aggrieved. Rather, Nadra had adopted a non-transparent process while awarding the tender.

He added that Nadra’s ‘request for proposal (RFP)’ regarding the tender was biased and non-transparent.

It is designed to favour certain parties and is in violation of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) Rules 2004, the counsel alleged.

The bench, after hearing his arguments, had adjourned the matter till the third week of November.