KARACHI: Jailed Pakistan Peoples Party lawmaker Ali Nawaz Shah and his two close relatives were on Monday released on bail after their conviction in a land revenue fraud case was suspended by the Sindh High Court.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Ahmed Ali M. Sheikh granted bail in the sum of Rs500,000 each to the PPP lawmaker, his cousin, Syed Khadim Ali Shah, and nephew, Imtiaz Ali Shah, while hearing the appeal against their conviction.

The bench also ordered their release if their custody was not required in any other case.

They were sentenced to different jail terms by an accountability court on Sept 10. They were also disqualified for 10 years to hold any public office.

MPA Ali Nawaz Shah, who also served as federal and provincial minister, was sentenced to five-year imprisonment, while his nephew and cousin, both former MPAs, were jailed for four and three years, respectively.

Later, upon his release he told reporters that it took well over seven hours to fulfil legal formalities, although the high court had suspended the order of the accountability court and granted bail to them at around noon.

Their appeal against the trial court’s judgement had been admitted on Sept 15 for regular hearing by the Sindh High Court that had put the National Accountability Bureau, the investigation and prosecution agency, on notice for Sept 21.

Their counsel submitted that the federal government in 1995 provided funds for the construction of Sim Nala on the Left Bank Out-fall Drain, Wapda, and the land acquisition collector, Hyderabad announced payment of compensation to various land owners whose land was acquired for the project.

They said that the it was alleged in the case against their clients that MPA Shah, Khadim Shah and Imtiaz Shah received payments of Rs500,632, Rs547,525 and Rs431,106 as compensation in excess of their entitlement allegedly on the basis of fake land documents.

The counsel said that the NAB chairman had initially filed a reference against the appellants and others in the accountability court, which on Oct 2, 2001 issued non-bailable warrants for their arrest.

They said that the three accused persons obtained bail from the trial court that proceeded with the case only against the accused in custody and upon conclusion of the trial the judge held that the appellant were liable to face the penal consequences.

The counsel said that the trial judge also failed to consider that the appellants had filed a civil suit in court for compensation and damages against Wapda, which was decreed in their favour in 2003.

They said that Wapda’s appeal against the judgement of the suit in their favour and subsequent revision application were also dismissed.

They said that the trial judge failed to consider that neither the appellants were party to the fixation of the amount of compensation nor did they participate in such proceedings.

MPA Shah was first elected to the provincial assembly in 1977. He served as the federal minister for industries in 1989. He has been elected a senator and MPA three times since then.'

Published in Dawn, September 22nd , 2015

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