ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Monday directed for audit of Pakistan Television Corporation accounts and expenditures incurred during the tenure of Attaul Haq Qasmi as its chairman.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heard the suo moto case regarding the appointment of Qasmi as its chairman.

The bench reserved the judgment about the appointment of Qasmi, while the case pertaining to expenditures incurred after his appointment was deferred till next week.

The court observed that Rs270 million were spent during the two-year tenure of Qasmi. The court questioned under what head this amount was spent and the accounts would have to be justified. The chief justice said they had heard that Qasmi had set up a camp office in Lahore, where a house was acquired for him and his programme promo was run at the prime time.

The chief justice said that in the Jehangir Tareen case, they had maintained that political appointees will fall in the domain of quo warranto and they would not allow distribution of posts among friends in such a manner. He said that in the United States of America, the president cannot even allot a shop to anyone.

The chief justice said that how they could allow the prime minister to issue illegal orders, and in a democracy, all decisions are taken for the betterment of the people. He said that in Pakistan there was democracy and not a kingdom. He hinted at summoning former prime minister Nawaz Sharif regarding Qasmi’s appointment as the PTV chairman.

Ayesha Hamid, appearing on behalf of PTV ex-chairman, contended that her client had brought Rs600 million to the PTV. She contended that if Qasmi had been elected by the board of directors as the chairman then it was not his fault, as no other member of the board aspired for the post. A notification regarding the appointment of Qasmi as PTV chairman was issued on September 23, 2015.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that the finance and all sort of experience was required for the post and for position of the managing director. Justice Umar Atta Bandial observed that ‘Hilal-e-Imtiaz’ was also awarded to him in 2014 and the same government awarded him a medal and he was appointed an envoy to Thailand and Norway.

Secretary to Prime Minister Fawad Hasan Fawad said that the appointment had been made over verbal orders. The chief justice inquired, “Which law allows you to obey verbal orders from the prime minister? You do not have the authority to approve a summary sent by the prime minister”.

Fawad replied that the practice of approving verbal orders from the prime minister was not limited to his tenure and had been in place for “two decades”.

Former information minister Pervaiz Rasheed sought time to engage a counsel.

Qasmi had stirred up a controversy in April 2017 when he appointed himself PTV MD while also remaining the chairman of the state-run broadcaster. Five days later, under immense pressure, he was replaced by Information Secretary Sardar Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera, who was appointed as acting MD.

The case is adjourned until next week.