An accountability court in Lahore on Tuesday accepted the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) request for 14-day physical remand of Raja Qamarul Islam — a PML-N candidate for the NA-59 seat — in Punjab Saaf Paani Company (PSPC) scam case.
Islam, along with the company’s ex-chief executive officer Wasim Ajmal, was arrested by NAB a day after the PML-N announced he would contest the election against Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in NA-59 (Rawalpindi).
The PML-N had objected to Islam’s arrest, arguing that it could impact elections. Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, while speaking in Islamabad earlier today after being cleared to contest elections, demanded that Islam be immediately released.
Terming the arrest “pre-poll rigging”, he said that the act was contempt of the election itself. He requested the chief election commissioner as well as NAB chairman to take notice of the incident.
During the hearing, a NAB counsel told the court that Islam was accused of illegally granting contracts of 84 water filtration plants at inflated prices. Islam tampered with the costs in tender documents of the plants that had to be installed at Hasilpur, Manchanabad, Lodhran and Khanpur, he alleged.
He also said that the accused got the contracts of 102 plants approved from the the PSPC board of directors and made changes to the documents later.
Meanwhile, Ajmal was accused of severe violations of the Punjab Procurement Rules 2014 and ordering installation of 8 plants in Tehsil Dunyapur even though the area was not included in the initial contract.
Islam’s lawyer rejected all allegations against his client and claimed that he was being subjected to political victimisation.
Islam criticised the treatment meted out to him by NAB during detention and claimed that he had in fact brought the bid price down to Rs980 million from Rs1.11 billion. Also denying charges, Ajmal claimed all contracts were awarded on merit.
The court has granted NAB the physical remand of both the accused till July 9.