RAWALPINDI, Oct 7: A recent challan submitted to the control of narcotics substances (CNS) court by the anti narcotics force (ANF) in ephedrine scam has raised some legal questions, as the ANF is still treating the approvers as accused persons in the challan.
According to the ANF’s fourth challan in the ephedrine case, there are 17 accused persons including the two approvers, Dr Rashid Juma, the former director general health, and Rizwan Ahmed Khan, former director of the Danas pharmaceutical company, who obtained 2,500 kg ephedrine quota.
Initially named as accused, Dr Juma and Rizwan Khan turned approvers in July this year and alleged the involvement of Makhdoom Shahab, federal minister for textile industries, Ali Musa Gilani, son of former prime minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, and the federal secretary Khushnood Lashari.
Legal experts say that under section 173 of the criminal procedure code (CrPC), the names of approvers should be mentioned in column 6 of the report (challan), which is reserved for the witnesses but the ANF included their names in column 4 of the challan, which is for an accused on bail.
Abdul Rashid Sheikh, counsel for Makhdoom Shahab, told Dawn that in order to keep the approvers under pressure, the ANF deliberately mentioned the names of Dr Juma and Rizwan Khan as accused persons.
“Dr Juma and Rizwan Khan did not obtain bail and had withdrawn their petitions seeking pre-arrest bail,” the counsel said, objecting to the inclusion of both the approvers in the accused persons’ column.
According to section 337 of CrPC under which they had been declared approvers, both persons had been pardoned and, therefore, they must be treated as witnesses, he added. “The ANF in order to blackmail the approvers is not treating them as witnesses and their names are still stated along with the other accused persons of the case,” he alleged.
He claimed that the approvers in the ephedrine case had recorded their statements under fear and the ANF believes that they would backtrack from their earlier stance, if they would be set free, adding that, in order to keep them under continuous pressure, their names had been put among the accused persons.
According to advocate Sheikh, the recent challan was full of errors as it also mentioned Makhdoom Shahab and Musa Gilani as absconders whereas both of them are on bail.
Advocate Faisal Hussain, counsel for Musa Gilani, when contacted said that it shows the mala fide intentions of the ANF in this case. After the court declared Dr Juma and Rizwan Khan as approver, the force should not have cited them as accused persons, he said.
“The ANF is also pressurising the other accused and trying to plant false stories against the relatives of the accused persons as well,” he alleged.
Akhtar Abbas director legal ANF on the other hand insisted that the force’s investigations into the ephedrine case were in accordance with the directions of the apex court.
“Dr Juma and Rizwan Khan, although declared as approvers, still have to record their statements under oath before the trial court judge, which would be subject to cross examination by the defence counsel,” he told Dawn.
He, however, admitted that both the approvers had withdrawn their pre-arrest bail petitions but the recent challan mentioned them as accused on bail.
“In fact, Dr Juma and Rizwan Khan both were on interim bail at the time when they recorded their statement and, therefore, they have been mentioned as accused persons on bail,” he said.
He rejected allegations that the ANF was spreading false information against the relatives of high profile accused as attempts at defaming the ANF.
Other accused persons nominated in the fourth challan, include federal minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin, Ali Musa Gilani, Khushnood Akhtar Lashari, former director general health Asad Hafeez, drug controller Sheikh Ansar Ahmed, deputy drug controller Abdul Sattar Suhrani, the chief executive Berlex pharmaceutical company (which obtained 6,500 kg ephedrine) Iftikhar Ahmed Khan, chief executive of Danas Ansar Farooq, Col (retired) Tahirul Wadood Lahoti director Danas, Anjum Shah the alleged front man of Makhdoom Shahabuddin, and Taqueer Ali Khan the alleged front man of Ali Musa Gilani.
Four accused persons who are in the custody of the ANF, include Muhammad Hashim Khan Tareen, Ehsanur Rehman, Syed Tanvir Hussain Sherazi and Chaudhry Abdul Waheed.