RAWALPINDI, July 24: Property tycoon Malik Riaz on Tuesday made another failed attempt to stop an anti-corruption court from proceeding against him in a land fraud case by filing two identical petitions in the Lahore High Court (LHC).
However, the court rejected his pleas.
The Rawalpindi bench of LHC comprising Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmed Khan and Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi had taken up the petitions filed by Mr Riaz through his lawyer Dr Abdul Basit.
This was the fourth time that counsel for Bahria Town (BT) sought the same relief from the LHC and requested the court to stop the proceedings of the anti-corruption court against the tycoon, his son Ali Riaz and other accomplices.
Earlier, Barrister Gohar Ali Khan and Zahid Hussain Bokhari as counsels for BT had requested the same but their petitions were not entertained.
On Tuesday, Dr Basit told the court that the chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in November 2011 had transferred the said land fraud case from the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) to NAB but in a rare move, ACE defied the orders of chairman NAB and instead of handing over the record of land fraud case they challenged the transfer of case in the LHC.
He pointed out that since the matter was between NAB, which is a federal anti-corruption bureau, and ACE, a provincial body, the latter could file an application in the Supreme Court but in this particular case, the LHC admitted the petition and issued the stay order.
According to Dr Basit, despite the stay order, the anti-corruption judge did not wait for the decision on ACE petition and issued non-bailable arrest warrants for the accused.
“The trial court judge also ignored the fact that the accused persons had shown lack of trust in him and had filed an application before the Chief Justice LHC for transfer of the case to any other court,” he added.
Meanwhile, prosecutor-general Punjab, Sadaqat Ali Khan, representing ACE told the court that since Malik Riaz and his son were fugitives therefore they could not approach the court.
He said the BT management earlier filed the petition to stop the trial court proceedings under section 151 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) through Mr Bokhari which was rejected. “Then Dr. Basit came with the same request and filed another petition under section 561-A of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and now he has filed the petition under section 199 of the Constitution,” he elaborated.
The prosecutor-general added that the tycoon filed pre-arrest bail in the same matter when the trial court issued his arrest warrant in October, 2011. Later when the Supreme Court directed him to appear before the trial court to join the proceedings, chairman NAB in November issued the order for transfer of the case from ACE to NAB.
The prosecutor-general claimed that Mr Riaz wanted to transfer the case to NAB because he was certain that due to his nexus with the current chairman he could easily be acquitted in the corruption case.
Identity card case: Meanwhile, civil judge Rawalpindi Shumaila Sheikh referred to the district and sessions judge Rawalpindi the matter of fake registration of identity cards in which Malik Riaz and some officials of National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) after Riaz’s counsel expressed lack of trust in her.
Police station Civil Lines of Rawalpindi on March 8, 2011 had registered a case against Nadra employees for issuing fake CNICs. According to the investigation report of the case, some employees of Bahria Town accused Malik Riaz of pressing them to change their previous CNICs and making new ones in the constituency of Ch Nisar Ali Khan, the opposition leader in the National Assembly.
The court on June 27 last year issued non-bailable warrants for Malik Riaz and five Nadra officials but the court then suspended the warrants when Malik Waheed Anjum challenged the police report and filed an application to quash the arrest warrants.
On Tuesday, Advocate Anjum, counsel for Malik Riaz, told the judge that she was working under pressure and requested her to transfer the case to any other court. Sessions judge Rawalpindi Syed Maroof Ahmed would hear the case on Wednesday.
It is pertinent to mention that Nadra in this particular matter filed a suit in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for the recovery of Rs10 billion from Ch Nisar Ali Khan and SHO of Civil Lines police station alleging that the opposition leader as well as the Civil Lines police had damaged the credibility of registration authority by making false case against Nadra and publicizing it at different forums.