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ISLAMABAD: The Accountability Court, on Wednesday, ordered to issue advertisement for summoning the former chairperson of Benazir Income Support Programme (BSIP) and Pakistan Peoples Party leader, Farzana Raja, in the corruption reference filed over alleged embezzlement in the BISP funds.

The Accountability Court-II judge, Syed Asghar Ali, while hearing the case, expressed annoyance over Raja’s continued absence and ordered to issue advertisement for summoning her. He ordered that Raja should appear before the court within 30 days of advertisement being issued and if she failed to do so, she would be declared a proclaimed offender.

The court also rejected her petition seeking to exempt her from personal appearance before it.

At the start of the hearing, Raja’s counsel filed an application before the court seeking exemption of his client from personal appearance before it.

The court, while rejecting Raja’s application observed that the accused has not appeared once before the court since this reference was filed.

It is not possible that she stay abroad and we grant her exemption, the judge said.

The judge said that for seeking exemption it was necessary for the accused to appear the court for once.

The court adjourned hearing of the case till May 24. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman former Justice Javed Iqbal approved the reference against the PPP leader on December 3, 2019.

The reference comprised 32 volumes and 19 persons have been nominated in the case. The bureau approved the reference for granting advertisement campaign contract to four advertising agencies contrary to the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules, which allegedly inflicted Rs1.46 billion losses to the national exchequer.

According to the reference, a complaint had been received in the NAB alleging that the BISP awarded contracts to advertising agencies in 2009-10 and 2010-11 in violation of the PPRA rules, 2004.

It was further alleged in the complaint that Rs1.657 billion was given to an advertising agency, M/s Midas (Pvt) Limited.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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