Top court reserves verdict on Attaul Haq Qasmi’s appointment as PTV chief

  • Court orders audit of financial benefits given to Qasmi and his son
  • Hearing of the case adjourned till March 5
Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its verdict over the appointment of Attaul Haq Qasmi’s appointment as Pakistan Television (PTV) chairman by the incumbent government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

A two-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, took up the suo moto case against the controversial appointment of the MD PTV.

Qasmi is facing charges of allegedly receiving an aggregate of Rs278 million as salary and employee benefits during his two-year term.

The court also ordered the audit of financial benefits given to Qasmi and his son. The case has been adjourned March 5.

Principal Secretary Fawad Hasan Fawad also appeared in the court to attend the hearing and submitted his response to the case.

On Feb 12, Fawad appeared in court and informed the chief justice that he had never submitted a false statement. He vowed that he did not give any instructions to the additional information secretary to appoint Qasmi.

The 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.

On Feb 2, the apex court had taken suo moto notice on the appointment of Qasmi and summoned former information minister Pervez Rashid and other officials, demanding to know why former Pakistan Television (PTV) chairman Attaul Haq Qasmi allegedly received over Rs270 million in salary and employee benefits over his two-year term.

While taking the notice, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar said that this appointment seems illegal. “Qasmi was given Rs27 crore during his tenure of two years which were tax money of people of Pakistan,” CJP observed.

“This country is of poor people so how can one person be given this much amount of money,” he asked.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing a 2006 petition filed by a producer who worked at PTV, which claimed that the absence of a Managing Director (MD) in the state-run institution had a negative effect on the organisation’s operations.

Qasmi had stirred up controversy in April 2017 when he appointed himself PTV MD. Five days later, he was replaced by Information Secretary Sardar Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera, who was appointed as acting MD.

According to Sukhera, who appeared before the two-judge bench on Friday, Qasmi received at least Rs 2.7 million every month in salary and other benefits. The former chairman was also allocated an advertising budget for a programme he used to host on PTV.

The large amount of compensation Qasmi allegedly received during his time at PTV caught the eye of Justice Nisar, who observed that the former chairman received at least Rs1m monthly.