ISLAMABAD: The issue of non-transparency in the procurement of vital anti-terrorism equipment in the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province (KPP), already declared as the most corrupt by Transparency International (TI), has taken a serious turn after one of the private companies involved has approached the Supreme Court to seek cancellation of the allegedly dubious deal of thousands of bulletproof jackets and ballistic proof helmets.
Already serious questions have been raised regarding the procurement of other such equipments including explosive detectors etc but the things are not moving in the right direction in the province, which according to the TIís latest report, saw 400 per cent increase in corruption under the ANP regime.
The provincial government, however, termed the TI report as politically motivated. Unconfirmed reports also suggest that controversial purchase of sophisticated weapons of extremely low quality have been made.
The provincial police department has been denying these allegations and insists that all the procurement is being made in a transparent manner. But in view of the mounting complaints and because of Transparency International report there is a need for fair evaluation of such purchases by an independent party. Sources said that this is extremely important in such purchases as any compromise could lead to risking the lives of the people and officials of the law enforcing agencies.
The sources said that one of the companies, which claims to have given the lowest bid for the procurement of ballistic proof helmets and bulletproof jackets, has approached the Supreme Court with the allegations that hundreds of millions of rupees are being wasted by the provincial police in these purchases.
The apex court has been told that the petitioner had approached the provincial high court, which in case of ballistic proof helmets has decided in part in favour of the petitioner, in case of bullet proof jackets the court restrained itself to issue the requisite writ at all, following which the petitioner has to knock at the doors of the apex court.
The details as presented before the Supreme Court, say that in order to equip the police of the province with the requisite equipments to fight war against terrorism in the engulfed province, the provincial authorities invited quotations for security equipments including the ballistic proof helmets and bulletproof jackets.
The petitioner claimed that on 23.12.2009 it submitted its bids with specifications as per tender documents for the aforesaid two items with all the pre-requisites including call deposits of Rs8 million and Rs21 million respectively. On 24.12.2009, sealed bids were opened and the petitionerís bids were not only found to be in accordance with specifications but also were the lowest amongst all the 12 bidders for both items i.e. petitionerís bid was Rs15,000 for ballistic proof helmets and Rs45,000 for bulletproof jackets and the nearest bidders in the two items were more or less Rs10,000 higher.
Subsequently, the petition said, the petitionerís ballistic proof helmet sample made by a USA company in its manufacturing facility in China supplying to the NATO/ISAF forces in Afghanistan was subjected to test along with other competitorsí helmet and only petitionerís supplied helmet was found in accordance with specifications, hence, a supply order was issued in favour of the petitioner on 28.02.2010 for supply of 30,000 ballistic proof helmets.
However, in delivery order, beyond the specifications, the words ďUSA madeĒ were also mentioned which being introduced out of the blue, the petitioner asked for correction. However, instead on 17.04.2010 not only the aforesaid supply order issued to the petitioner was cancelled but also 2% call deposit Rs8 million was ordered to be forfeited. For the reasons, the honourable high court in the subject WP No 1727/2010 intervened and to the extent hold that ďWe, thus, without entering into sterile controversy, hold that if the respondents accept supply of the ballistic proof helmets passed and approved well and good. If not, they have no right whatever to forfeit the amount of call deposit. Even otherwise, forfeiture of call deposit in the circumstances appears to be unjust. In case, the parties agree to supply of ballistic proof helmets so approved, their quality, in case of any objection there against by the respondents shall be scrutinized, preferably by an expert of Pakistan Army or Frontier Constabulary. This petition is, thus, disposed of.Ē
Regarding bulletproof jackets, the petitioner said, the court refrained from advancing any relief to the petitioner. The petition submitted that the petitionerís jackets besides being the lowest (Rs45,000 per piece) were literally found to be in accordance with specifications (weighing 5.72 kg), however, was rejected on the basis of test wherein the petitioner has not been properly associated and in a clandestine manner, the supply order was issued to a company whose Jacket was not only much heavier (8.46 kg)then the stipulated maximum weight ranging between 5.6 to 6.25 kg but also Rs10,000 higher than the petitionerís bid i.e. Rs55,000/- per piece.
The petition also claims that its bid regarding bulletproof jacket was duly assessed and was found in accordance with specifications, therefore, was accepted and approved by the purchase committee. It added that on 11th December, 2009, the petitioner along with other bidders were invited to witness the testing of jackets at Police Line Peshawar but interestingly during the testing process the petitioner was not shown their sample after firing, to know the exact result of the test. The rule on the subject is that after the test, the jackets should have been shown to all the participating vendors on the spot to prove the transparency on the part of the respondents. Later on, the petitioner was told that their soft jacket had passed the test but hard plates produced a mild dent/tomb against the fire of G3/AK-47.
However, the petition said, neither the jacket was exhibited nor the alleged dent/tomb was shown to the petitioner. These facts, the petitioner said, show mala fide on the part of procuring agency.
It is alleged that the provincial authorities with mala fide and ulterior motive rejected the offer of the petitioner and thereafter accepted the offer of respondent No 3 at a higher rate of Rs55,000 per Jacket by ignoring the next lowest bid at the rate of Rs53,300 per jacket, offered by another bidder. It shows that the procuring respondents were bent upon accommodating their favorite blued eyed, the petition said.