Director General (DG) Immigration and Passports, Zulfiqar Cheema, on Tuesday apprised the court about the irregularities committed by former interior minister Rehman Malik in the department.

Zulfiqar Cheema informed the court that in the past, blue passports were issued to the people who were not entitled for it and the same were issued even to workers of cycle repairing shop on the directives of former interior minister but the present administration had cancelled these passports.

He made these revelations in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), which held the hearing in a petition moved against awarding a contract to a US firm for the provision of lamination paper to the Department of Immigration and Passports for making machine-readable passports.

During the hearing, the DG Immigration and Passport informed the court of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui that the permission was taken from Prime Minister to import the lamination paper through US firm since the issuance of passports was closed in absence of the paper.

He continued that the overseas Pakistani people were facing acute problems due to this problem.

Therefore, he sent a summary to the Prime Minister for immediate import of lamination paper and Prime Minister approved the summary by giving exemption from Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules and the permission was given to the firm, which was already supplying lamination paper.

Cheema further told that the said firm had been providing lamination paper since 2004 and there was no complaint against it in this connection.

He informed the court that former interior minister Rehman Malik wanted to award the contract to his blue-eyed firm and he had given instruction in this connection to the deputy project manager by calling him at his residence.

Zulfiqar Cheema told that mafia was taking bribe of Rs 15000 for normal passport whereas Rs 25000 for urgent passport issuance.

He further told the court that an order has been issued to cancel the blue passports of unauthorised people issued on the directives of former interior minister.

However, the counsel for petitioner Salman Akram Raja contended that Prime Minister had no power to give exemption from PPRA's rules.

On this occasion, he said that under the section 21 of PPRA Ordinance 2004, first of all a board passed a resolution to give exemption and then, the case was referred to Prime Minister while in this case, no board meeting was held.

Meanwhile, US firm Security Laminates Opsec submitted an application before the court to become a party in the case.

Acceding its application, Justice Siddiqui adjourned the hearing till May 28 for further proceedings.

It is pertinent to mention here that IHC on Monday summoned Director General (DG) Passports and Immigration to appear before the court on Tuesday (today) in a petition moved against awarding a contract to a US firm for provision of lamination paper to the Department of Immigration and Passports for making machine-readable passports.

The petition was moved by advocate Salman Akram Raja the counsel for petitioner the management of Reliance Company a French firm.

In the petition, the petitioner management of Reliance Company a French firm had challenged awarding the contract to the US company, Security Laminates Opsec.

He contended that the contract was awarded in violation of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules.

Reliance Company Chief Executive Officer Sameer Baig, through his counsel, maintained in the petition that his client got the highest points for quality when its lamination paper was sent to a laboratory after the immigration department and the interior ministry sought bids for paper for passports through an advertisement. But later, the contract was awarded to the US company without informing his client.

He alleged that immigration and passports DG and project director for machine-readable passports manipulated the bidding process to favour the US company in clear violation of PPRA rules.

He said that his client had submitted technical and financial proposals before the project director after fulfilling all the requirements.

The petitioner stated that currently, there was an acute shortage of lamination paper in the immigration department and alleged that the existing company was responsible for all the mess and requested the court to declare the contract illegal.