SHC rejects bail pleas of five accused in housing scheme corruption case

Tribune

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) rejected on Friday the bail pleas of five accused including the former chairperson of Benazir Housing Scheme, Manzar Abbas, in a case relating to the provision of houses to flood victims in six districts free of charge.
A two-member bench headed by SHC Chief Justice Ahmed Ali Sheikh and comprising Justice Omar Sial rejected the pleas of all five accused.
According to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), an accountability court has convicted these accused. The bail pleas were filed before the verdict was announced and so their pleas have become ineffective. The accountability court awarded seven years imprisonment to each of the five accused including Abbas, Agha Zawar, Ashiq Ali Sheikh and Chaudhry Ashraf.
They were accused of embezzling around Rs500 million. They had been tasked to provide 2,100 houses to people affected by flooding in six districts of Sindh, including Khairpur, Larkana, Kashmore, Ghotki, Sanghar and Tharparkar, free of charge. The convicts used up the money without constructing a single house.
The same bench granted two-week protective bail to Javed Alvi, who is the tax consultant of Zardari family, in the mega money laundering case.
The petitioner’s counsel, Advocate Farooq H Naek, argued that NAB had issued a call-up notice to his client, but the bureau should be refrained from arresting Alvi. NAB summoned Alvi for investigations.
Alvi is the tax consultant for Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal, Asifa and Bakhtawar.
The bench also heard the plea for protective bail by Agha Siraj Durrani’s frontman, Gulzar Ahmed, and sought a reply from NAB’s prosecutor in this regard by April 5.
The petitioner’s counsel argued that Ahmed was in the United States of America and while he is aware of the investigation through news and wants to come back to Pakistan, he fears he would be arrested. He asked, therefore, that his client’s protective bail should be accepted in his absence.
NAB prosecutor argued that the copy of accused’s bail plea hadn’t been received. The court ordered the petitioner’s counsel to provide a copy of bail plea to NAB’s prosecutor. The counsel argued that the hearing of the plea should be fixed soon to which the Chief Justice remarked that the court cannot give special treatment to such cases.
While hearing the corruption case in the municipal committee of Thul in Jacobabad district, the bench issued show-cause notices to NAB investigation officer (IO) and NAB director and sought their explanation on April 12.
The court expressed annoyance with NAB for amending Rs700,000 to Rs1,600,000 in the approved document to return the amount of money voluntarily. CJ Sheikh remarked that NAB accepted the request of returning Rs700,000 voluntarily but the amount written on the document was crossed with a pen and written as Rs1,600,000. He asked who did this. The IO accepted that he did it.
CJ Sheikh remarked that you should be sent to jail since you have confessed in the courtroom. The court ordered NAB DG to file a case against the investigation officer. He added that while the accused were not innocent, everybody is aware of what NAB is doing.
According to NAB, the local government department’s accounts clerk, Abdur Raheem, has been accused of embezzling Rs60 million under the guise of developmental projects.

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