ISLAMABAD, Sept 14: A local court of Islamabad on Saturday dismissed the pre-arrest bail plea of five people, including officials of the management of Al-Mustafa Towers, who were accused of misappropriating funds raised from apartment owners.
The funds had been acquired from the 318 apartment owners for the lifetime maintenance of the residential towers.
Following the rejection of the bail application, the Shalimar police arrested Ashraf Karim Dhedy and Ibrahim Karim Dhedy, owners of the private firm Madina Wala Construction in addition to three other officials.
However, Haji Abdul Karim, the managing director of the firm, and his two sons, managed to escape arrest.
Al-Mustafa Towers is a project of Madina Wala Construction and is spread over an area of 2.25 acres.
It has 318 apartments and is situated on the 10th Avenue, F-10 Markaz.
A resident of the tower told Dawn that Madina Wala, the management of the residential towers, had collected Rs150,000 as lifetime maintenance charges from each of its buyers during the booking of the apartments 15 years ago.
However, after handing over the apartments, the management initially started collecting Rs500 per month which was later increased gradually to almost Rs2,000 to Rs3,000.
Tussle between the apartments’ owners and the management started in July this year when an inspection team of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) pointed out several defects in the towers. The team also observed that the building was not maintained properly.
Consequently, a committee of the towers’ residents asked the management about the utilisation of the lifetime maintenance fee and demanded an independent audit to which the management refused.
Therefore residents moved an application before additional sessions judge Islamabad (west) Raja Khurram Ali Khan for the registration of an FIR against the firm (Madina Wala).
The court accepted the request and the Shalimar police, on August 28, 2013, registered a case against the management of the towers under the relevant sections for misappropriation and extending threats.
On the other hand, the builders filed a pre-arrest bail plea in the court to escape arrest.
Additional sessions judge Mohammad Rafaqat Awan initially granted the accused people interim bail but on Saturday, gave a final verdict in which their bail plea was dismissed.
During the hearing, Hashmat Ali Habib, the counsel of the residents, said after collection of Rs150,000 as lifetime maintenance fee, the towers’ management could not charge Rs2,000 to Rs3,000 per month for maintenance.
He said the lifetime maintenance fee had been collected from the management so that the approximate Rs50 million could be invested in some profitable ventures. The profit from these ventures was to be used for maintenance of the towers.
Advocate Habib said that the management was not willing to give details of the lifetime maintenance allowance despite repeated requests by the residents.
Instead, it was collecting monthly allowance from the residents against their will.
“Collection of any unauthorised amount from any person is an act of extortion and the accused may be treated as extorters” the counsel maintained.
On the other hand, Haroonur Rashid, the counsel of Madina Wala Construction, said the towers’ management was providing all facilities to the residents and was collecting a legitimate fee in return.
He said the dismissal of the bail applications would be challenged in the appellate forum.
Remand in Extortion Case
An Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) of Islamabad on Saturday handed over the custody of six accused people to the Sabzi Mandi police on a four-day physical remand in connection with an extortion case.
The accused include four policemen namely Assistant Sub Inspectors (ASIs) Mohammad Ishaq, Mohammad Azam and Mohammad Syed Akhter, and constable Agha Shad.
In addition, two employees of the Capital Development Authority (CDA), Abdul Ghafoor and Saghir Ahmed, have been nominated in two cases for allegedly patronising o local and Afghan extortionist groups at the fruit and vegetable market (Sabzi Mandi) of Islamabad.
It is worth mentioning that on Friday, the police had obtained physical remand of seven alleged extortionists from the ATC.
These were named Habibullah, Omar Khan, Habibur Rehman, Hasil Khan and Nadir Khan, members of a group hailing from the tribal area, and Hazrat Wali and Gul Wali, members of an Afghan group.