An Accountability Court (AC) on Monday rejected a request by former chairman Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Farzana Raja, seeking a case proceeding through video link and instructed all accused to appear in person in the NAB reference. The court said that it would initiate the procedure to declare the accused as proclaimed offender, if failed to appear in person for indictment. AC-III Judge Syed Asghar Ali heard the reference filed by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) pertaining to corruption in funds of BISP during the tenure of PPP. Farzana Raja’s lawyer contended that her client was staying abroad and was not able to appear currently due to COVID-19 outbreak. She had to stay in a 14 days quarantine if she had to go back, he said. The court said that it could proceed the trial through video link when the accused had no intention to appear in person. The judge expressed annoyance over absence of the all accused and recalled that in the last hearing it had instructed them to ensure the attendance. The defence lawyer prayed the court to postpone the indictment for now and give a new date for it so that all accused could appear. The court, however, rejected the request of Farzana Raja to proceed the case through video link and asked her counsel to inform her that it would initiate a procedure to declare the accused absconder if she didn’t appear at the next hearing. The court adjourned the case till June 7. In March last year, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filed a reference against alleged corruption in the BISP. Under the stewardship of Farzana Raja, a discrepancy of Rs4.8 billion was discovered for the year 2012-13 owing to the awarding of unlawful contracts based on unfair practices. In one case, a contract worth Rs 2.74 billion was awarded without compliance to the rules of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority.