Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court on Friday
declared all contracts signed by the government for rental
power plants as illegal and directed authorities to take legal
action against those responsible for clearing the projects,
including a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari.
Zardari`s aide Raja Parvez Ashraf was Power Minister when
contracts were signed for several rental power projects, which
were part of the Pakistan People`s Party-led government`s
strategy to overcome a crippling energy shortage.
Though he was dropped during a cabinet reshuffle last
year, Ashraf is close to Zardari and advises him on party
The apex court began investigating the rental power
plants (RPPs) in 2009 following a complaint of corruption from
PML-Q parliamentarian Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat.
At the time, Hayat was in the opposition but his party is
now part of the ruling coalition and he is the Housing
A two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar
Chaudhry said in its order that the RPPs were a "total
failure" as they produced only 120 MW of electricity.
The bench said the government had committed illegalities
by paying a 14 per cent advance payment of billions of rupees
to the bidders for RPP contracts.
The apex court cancelled the contracts signed by the
government with nine RPPs, saying they violated the law and
were "non-transparent, illegal and void ab initio".
All persons responsible for clearing the contracts "are
liable to be dealt with for civil and criminal action in
accordance with law", the order said.