ISLAMABAD, Feb 12 (SABAH): Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, while giving his remarks during hearing of the case regarding appointment of Managing Director Pakistan Television, has said that democracy is not a monarchy but is according to law, saying that now there will be supremacy of law in the country.
Three-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan headed by chief justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday conducted hearing of the case pertaining to appointment of former Pakistan Television (PTV) chairman Ataul Haq Qasmi. Chief justice said that supremacy of the law will be ensured.
The court questioned who was behind the appointment of former Pakistan Television chairman Ataul Haq Qasmi as managing director, warning that if the appointment was illegal, all expenses incurred by the state-run media group would be recovered from the person responsible.
Justice Nisar, who is heading the bench hearing a suo motu case regarding Qasmi’s appointment, read out the financial details of the former PTV chairman submitted to him in a report by the information secretary.
Qasmi received Rs150, 000 in salary, Justice Nisar was told by the Information Secretary Sardar Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera. He said that the report submitted in the SC contained details of Rs270 million that were spent to cover Qasmi’s expenses during his two-year tenure.
The CJP noted that in addition to his salary, Qasmi was paid Rs300, 000 for his medical expenses, Rs10, 000,000 for travel expenses, according to the report, The state television also gave him a Mercedes car and paid for its maintenance as well.
“Under which law did the organization pay for Ataul Haq Qasmi’s car maintenance?” Justice Nisar demanded. Furthermore, Qasmi received Rs50, 000 for hosting a programme, the report said.
Qasmi’s lawyer Ayesha Hamid, however, refused that Qasmi had received any salary for hosting his show. She also defended his salary, saying that Rs150, 000 was not an unreasonable amount for a chairman of the state television.
Justice Nisar ordered the Federal Board of Revenue to present the complete record of Qasmi’s tax returns that have been filed over the past 10 years.
The Supreme Court summoned on Monday the five-year tax record of former managing director of state-run Pakistan Television (PTV) Attaullah Haq Qasmi.
As the two-member bench began hearing the case in the morning, the court directed the attorney general’s office to ensure the immediate presence of Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Fawad Hasan Fawad, who had been summoned at the last hearing.
Later, as Fawad appeared in court, he informed the chief justice that he has never submitted a false statement and asked to give an explanation to the court.
He vowed that he did not give any instructions to the additional information secretary regarding Qasmi’s appointment.
Former additional information secretary informed the court that their office received the summary of the appointment from the Internal Publicity Wing of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
The chief justice then asked who ordered to move the summary, observing that a note must have been sent stating that the post is empty before the summary was moved.
Chief Justice then summoned the additional prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), observing why the case should not be given to NAB to investigate whether the appointment was legal and as per rules.
Additional Attorney General Rana Waqar asked the chief justice to hear his plea and informed the court that DG IP Wing Nasir Jamal moved the summary.
Ayesha Hamid, the counsel for Qasmi, informed the court that her client is being defamed by reports that he received Rs270 million. Chief Justice Nisar responded that the court can inquire into how much he received.
The chief justice remarked that whosoever is responsible for the exorbitant pay package will have to pay out from his or her own pocket if any illegality is established. The court then summoned the five-year tax record of Qasmi.
Earlier, during the hearing, the chief justice observed that the government does not have the authority to make appointments on its own. He said in the US, the president cannot even allot a kiosk but in Pakistan posts are doled out as favours at will.
Former information minister Senator Pervaiz Rasheed was also present in court on Monday. The court adjourned hearing of the case till February 21.
At the last hearing on February 2, the Supreme Court had summoned Qasmi, Rashid, Fawad and other government officials to appear in court today.
Qasmi, who has been looking after the affairs of PTV as its chairperson after the three-year contract of former managing director Mohammad Malick expired on February 26, 2016. The post has been lying vacant since then.
Qasmi sparked controversy by appointing himself PTV MD in April 2017. He was replaced by acting MD, Information Secretary Sardar Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera, who distanced himself from the establishment in December 2017.
Qasmi had allegedly received an aggregate of Rs278 million as salary and employee benefits during his two-year term.
Qasmi, a noted author and playwright, was appointed the chairman of PTV in 2015 but in April 2017, appointed himself the MD as well, sparking controversy.
The court was informed by Rana and Information Secretary Sardar Ahmed Sukhera that Qasmi had reportedly received a total of Rs278 million in salaries and advertising cuts during his two-year stint at the state TV channel. Qasmi is a recipient of the Pride of Performance Award, Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Hilal-e-Imtiaz.