SHC grants NAB DG two weeks to submit report on illegal land allotment

Tribune

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) granted on Wednesday two weeks to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) director-general (DG) for the submission of a report regarding the illegal allotment of 94 acres of land in Malir by former Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah.
A two-member bench comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice Omar Sial heard the case. The former Sindh CM appeared before the court with his counsel.
The court inquired where the NAB DG’s detailed progress report was, to which the NAB prosecutor argued that two weeks were required for submission. Justice Agha remarked that the orders to submit the report with signatures of the NAB DG were clear. He added that the court wants the NAB DG’s report instead of the report submitted by the investigation officer (IO).
The court granted two weeks for submission of the report and ordered the IO to complete the investigation by September 9. The court also extended the interim bail of the accused.
According to the NAB, Shah illegally allotted 94 acres of land to Mehran Society and Golf Builders. Later, he cancelled the allotment and now Sindh government is in possession of the land.
Money laundering case
The SHC issued notice to Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation (KKF) over the plea filed by former senator Ahmed Ali, affiliated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, in relation to money laundering through the welfare organisation. The court also ordered to fix a date for hearing of the case after judicial vacations.
A two-member bench comprising Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Saleem Jessar heard the plea against the transfer of the money laundering case to Islamabad. The Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Assistant Director Aijaz Ahmed appeared before the court. FIA officials submitted a reply.
The court inquired from FIA officials if the KKF was still operating to which, the officials replied that while the organisation had closed down on paper, it was still present on the ground.
The assistant attorney general maintained that Ali himself was a part of the KKF. The case has been transferred from Karachi to Islamabad. The judicial bailiff informed the court that the KKF’s office was closed and nobody was there to receive the judicial notice.
The court inquired from the petitioner’s counsel why his client’s account had been sealed and remarked that the accused must have committed corruption. Ali’s counsel, Baqir Mehdi, argued that evidence of money laundering was not clear.
The MQM’s former senator challenged the decision of transferring the money laundering case to Islamabad’s anti-terrorism court (ATC). The plea argued that the transfer was initiated on a letter by the home department and it was illegal. The trial of the case should be conducted where the crime has occurred.
Corruption reference
In a separate case, the two-member bench, comprising Justice Agha and Justice Sial, ordered the NAB’s investigation officer (IO) and prosecutor to ensure their presence before the court with all relevant documents over the bail plea filed by former information secretary Zulfiqar Ali Shallwani in the millions of rupees corruption reference.
The counsel for the petitioner argued that his client had been imprisoned for one and a half years. He said that statements of nine witnesses have been recorded. He added that the plea has been under trial for eight months and each time a hearing is scheduled, NAB officials ask for an extension.
NAB’s prosecutor argued that the IO of this reference was in Islamabad and asked that the hearing be adjourned. The court ordered NAB’s IO and prosecutor to ensure their presence at the next hearing with all relevant documents.
The court has also forwarded the matter to the chief justice, calling for the formation of a new bench for the reference.
The corruption in the information department was done under the guise of automation. According to NAB, two accused, Ata Muhammad and Noor Muhammad Leghari, are on bail while the other accused, Shallwani and Mansoor Ahmed Rajput, are in prison.
Heavy traffic
The SHC expressed annoyance over failure to allot land for the construction of bus terminals and sought details on the land while hearing a case pertaining to complete restriction on entry of heavy traffic in Karachi.
A two-member bench comprising Justice Muhammad Ai Mazhar and Justice Agha Faisal heard the case.
The court asked if they wanted to bring back heavy traffic on the roads of Karachi. The court remarked that the Sindh Revenue Board (SRB) was not providing the land and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) did not have the funds for the construction of bus terminals. Are we solving our problems? The problems of traffic are the problems of Karachi’s citizens.
The counsel for KMC argued that they did not have possession of 150 acres of land at Northern Bypass. The counsel maintained that money to purchase the land hasn’t been paid and that’s the reason the allotment process couldn’t be completed. He added that the KMC was facing a financial crisis and cannot make the payment.
The court inquired from the counsel for SRB as to why they were creating an obstacle when the chief minister had given his approval for the project. The court ordered the parties to consult each other over the payment.
The court remarked that the approval of CM means that the land should be allotted. The court ordered to hand over 50 acres of land in Mochko to KMC for oil tankers and sought the details of land reserved for the construction of bus and oil tanker terminals. The hearing has been adjourned till August 6.
Illegal allotment
The high court cancelled the interim bail of former Karachi Port Trust (KPT) secretary Gulab Khan in the corruption reference on KPT Cooperative Housing Society.
A two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali Shaikh and Justice Omar Sial announced the verdict on bail pleas filed by co-accused of former federal minister Kamran Michael. NAB officials arrested Khan from the SHC. The court also rejected the bail plea of another accused, Muhammad Ismail.
According to the NAB, 16 plots in KPT Cooperative Society were illegally allotted at extremely low rates. Michael collected Rs110 million as bribe for the allotment of three commercial plots.

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