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SC directed FBR to present last 10-year income tax record of Attaul Haq Qasmi

13 February, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to present last 10-year record of income tax returns filed by former Pakistan Television managing director (MD) Attaul Haq Qasmi.

The court also directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to inform it whether it could investigate the case involving Qasmi’s appointment as MD of the state-run television and the salary and perks he received while holding the slot.

A two-member Supreme Court bench, comprising Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, was hearing a suo motu case pertaining to the vacant post of PTV’s managing director (MD), as well as former MD Qasmi’s appointment and the amount of salary and perks he received being PTV’s former chairman and MD.

The chief justice observed that the government did not enjoy any authority to make appointments on its own, while keeping the rules aside. He said, in the US, the president cannot even allot a kiosk, but in Pakistan posts are filled at a free will.

On last hearing, the court had issued notices to the establishment secretary, former information minister Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, former PTV chairman Attaul Haq Qasmi, former additional secretary information and principal secretary to the prime minister Fawad Hassan Fawad, to explain why the post of PTV managing director was vacant for over one year.

At the onset of hearing on Monday, when the court came to know that Fawad Hasssan Fawad did not turn up despite being summoned, it directed the Attorney General’s Office to ensure his immediate presence.

Later, he appeared and told the court that he had never submitted any false statement before the court on Qasmi’s appointment. He said he also had not instructed the additional secretary information about Qasmi’s appointment.

The additional secretary information stated that his office had received a summary for the appointment of Qasmi from the Internal Publicity Wing of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

“Then who ordered to move the summary”, the chief justice asked, adding that the post was vacant before the summary was moved”.

Additional Attorney General Rana Waqar told the court that the summary was moved by Nasir Jamal, who is Internal Policy Wing director general of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

He said the summary was approved by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif. “If the prime minister had the authority to appoint the PTV MD,” the chief justice asked.

Rana Waqar then contended that Qasmi was first appointed as one of the directors of the PTV Board and later he was appointed MD by other members of the PTV Board.

During the hearing, the chief justice summoned the additional prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and noted that why not the case should be forwarded to the anti-corruption body to probe whether the appointment of Qasmi was as per rules and legal.

Counsel for Qasmi Ayesha Hamid told the court that her client was being scandalised and defamed by the reports that he had received Rs 270 million as salary within two years. She contended that her client did not receive Rs 5 million per month for hosting a show. She also denied that Qasmi’s show incurred additional Rs 7.5 million in the head of other expenses.

To a court query, she said Rs 1.5 million per month was not an extraordinary or unreasonable amount for the post of PTV chairman. The chief justice, however, noted that the court has to inquire that how much salary he received and whether his appointment was legitimate or not.

He said if any illegality in the appointment and the salary and other perks he received was established, those found responsible would have to pay back from their pockets.

Former information minister Senator Pervaiz Rasheed admitted before the court that he had nominated Qasmi as PTV chairman.

He said when he became the information minister, PTV was acquiring entertainment programmes from other channels, thus he nominated Qasmi to produce own content as he had playwright performance as the chairman of the Alhamra Arts Council, Lahore.

“It was MD’s job to run the affairs of PTV and not the chairman,” the chief justice noted, adding that the position for the MD was still vacant.

The chief justice read out a report submitted by Information Secretary Sardar Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera containing financial details of Rs 270 million of Qasmi’ salary being the PTV’s MD.

According to the report, Qasmi received Rs1.5 million per month salary. In addition to his salary, Qasmi was paid Rs 0.3 million for his medical expenses and Rs 1-million for travel expenses/ he received Rs2.4 million as an entertainment allowance.

He was also given a Mercedes and paid for its maintenance. He also received another Rs 5 million for hosting a programme, which incurred Rs 7.5 million in other expenses. Later, the court adjourned the hearing till February 21.

Qasmi was appointed as PTV chairman on Dec 23, 2015. He became controversial in April 2017 when he appointed himself to the post of PTV MD alongside his responsibilities as the chairman.

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