ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday ordered an audit of perks and privileges given to former Managing Director (MD) of state-run Pakistan Television (PTV) Ataul Haq Qasmi in last two years.
These directives were issued by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar while hearing a suo moto case of Qasmi’s appointment as MD of PTV.
During the court proceedings today, the CJP reserved judgment on the case and asked the auditors to submit a reply by next Monday (March 5) with regard to time duration required to compile the final audit report.
Justice Nisar inquired Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Fawad Hasan Fawad whether Qasmi’s appointment was made under any law. “Does the government function on verbal orders?” he asked.
To which, Fawad replied it has been happening for last two decades. He was summoned by the court to give an explanation over the matter.
The CJP then asked about the legitimacy of the appointment. “A notice to former PM could be issued over the matter if the authorities failed to prove the appointment lawful,” the CJP remarked.
Qasmi has been looking after the affairs of PTV as its chairperson on a contract after three-year contract of former MD Mohammad Malick expired on February 26, 2016.
The post was vacant until Qasmi sparked controversy by appointing himself as PTV MD in April 2017. He replaced the acting managing director, Information Secretary Sardar Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera.
Qasmi had allegedly received an aggregate of Rs278 million as salary and employee benefits during his two-year term. However, Qasmi’s counsel Ayesha Hamid refused that her client received an amount in millions, as she defended his salary and asserted that Rs 150,000 was a reasonable amount for a chairman of the state television.
Later, the court adjourned the hearing indefinitely. At last hearing on Feb 12, the top court had summoned the record of last 10 years income tax returns filed by Qasmi.
Justice Nisar then inquired about the person behind the appointment of former PTV chairman Ataul Haq Qasmi. “All expenses incurred by the state-run media group would be recovered from the person responsible, if Qasmi’s appointment was proven illegal,” warned the CJP.
Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Fawad Hasan Fawad appeared before the court and presented his arguments before the two-member bench. He denied giving an instruction to the former additional information secretary with regard to Qasmi’s appointment.
On the occasion, the former additional information secretary apprised the bench that the appointment summary was received from the Internal Publicity Wing of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
To which, the CJP asked who ordered to move the summary. “A note must have been sent stating that the post is vacant before the summary was moved,” noted Justice Nisar.
He summoned the additional prosecutor general of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the next hearing, observing as why not the case be handed over to the anti-graft body to probe into the appointment. – NNI