LAHORE  -   The National Accountability Bureau has thoroughly examined the LHC judgment in the Saaf Pani Company case and decided to challenge the same in the Supreme Court, sources say.

A meeting of the NAB board to be held today will once again go through the judgment and give the appeal final touches.

In case the participants thought it fit to include more arguments in the appeal for the reversal of the LHC decision, the matter may be delayed till the next board meeting.

The source say: “It has been mentioned in the judgement of LHC that there is no allegation against the petitioners that they received any commission, kickbacks,illegal gratification while awarding the contract in question to KSB pumps.

Moreover, it has been contended in the judgement that there is nothing on the record that a single penny was paid to petitioners or transferred in their accounts or in the accounts of their relatives or friends.

NAB contends that the instant case is based on the fact that bidding process was conducted and subsequently contract was awarded to KSB pumps without approval of Engineering Cost Estimates. The non approval of engineering cost estimates from any forum has rendered the whole process from bidding till execution of contract illegal.

The case is regarding award of contract to KSB pumps for installation of water filtration plants in Bahawalpur Region at exorbitant rates. For instance, KSB pumps installed Reverse Osmosis plants having capacity of 1000 litre/hour at exorbitant price of Rs3.325 million for Punjab Saaf Pani Company in Bahawalpur Region in 2015-16. On the contrary, Reverse Osmosis plants with the capacity of 1000 litres per hour having same specifications and same membrane catering for Total Dissolved Salts of 5000 parts per million were installed by KSB Pumps for Public Health and Engineering Department in Lahore at a price of Rs1.884 million till June 2016.

Similarly, Reverse Osmosis plants having capacity of 2000 L/h, Ultra Filtration plants having capacities of 1000 L/h and 2000L/h were installed by KSB pumps in Bahawalpur Region for Punjab Saaf Pani Company at exorbitant rates. Moreover, Operation and Maintenance of water filtration plants in Bahawalpur Region has been charged by KSB Pumps at exorbitant rates as compared to operation and maintenance rates charged by KSB Pumps for water filtration plants installed in Lahore Region. As per technical expert,  loss amounting to Rs130.604 Million was inflicted to the State Exchequer as result of installation of water filtration plants including O&M at exorbitant rates by KSB Pumps for Punjab Saaf Pani Company.

Similarly, as per civil works expert, loss amounting to Rs133.28 million has been inflicted to the State Exchequer on account of defective civil works and execution of civil works at exorbitant rates.

According to Solar Expert, loss amounting to Rs 81.944 Million was inflicted to the State Exchequer as a result of execution of solar works at exorbitant rates. All in all,  total accumulated loss of Rs 345 .828 Million has been inflicted to the State Exchequer as a result of installation of water filtration plants and execution of civil and solar works in Bahawalpur Region at exorbitant rates.

It has been mentioned in para No 12 of the judgement passed by LHC that under relevant rules,  the petitioners /Board of Directors of PSPC were authorized to award contracts at 4.5 percent higher amount than amount mentioned in Engineering Cost Estimate. On the contrary, no rules and regulations exist which suggest that contractor selection committee,  procurement committee and Board are authorized to award contract at 4.5 percent  higher amount than the amount mentioned in Engineering Cost Estimates. Moreover,  as per Punjab Delegation of Financial Rules,   the rates quoted  and amount tendered are such that the total cost of the project will not exceed the amount for which technical sanction has been accorded by more than 4.5 percent. In the instant case, the bid of KSB pumps amounting Rs 1.14 Billion exceeded unapproved cost estimates of Rs 995 Million(14% higher). Re-bidding should have been initiated. Instead, KSB pumps illegally negotiated with PSPC in violation of clause 57(1) of PPRA Rules, 2014 and reduced the bid price to RS 989 Million, which is exorbitantly high too. Further more,  due to aforesaid negotiations, level playing field was not given to the second bidder namely Amin Brothers

It is also mentioned in the judgement of LHC that under Rule 57 (2) and (3) of the Punjab Procurement Rules,  2014, it has been provided that in case of goods of highly technical nature (machinery,  it’s parts,  industrial equipments,  plants etc)  a bid can be negotiated immediately after the opening of bids. Furthermore, the judgement quoted clauses 57(1), 57(2) and 57(3) of PPRA 2014 and stated that the petitioners did not commit any illegality in negotiating the price of bid with KSB Pumps and reduction of same immediately after opening of bids.

The clauses 57 (2) and 57 (3) of PPRA Rules are not applicable on the instant case as bidding  process followed in Saaf Pani Case was of Single Stage Two Envelope, where in no negotiations what so ever are allowed.

The source say that these facts provide ample justification for NAB to challenge the LHC decision in the apex court.