ISLAMABAD: The sacked auditor general of Pakistan (AGP) Akhtar Buland Rana, who was convicted of concealing his Canadian nationality, was released on bail on Thursday.
Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Faizan Haider Gillani suspended the verdict of senior civil judge Mohammad Shabbir and issued notice to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for September 19.
The ADSJ released the AGP on Rs200,000 surety bonds. A senior civil judge had convicted Mr Rana under section 6(c) of the Passport Act 1974 for concealing his Canadian nationality and awarded him six-months of rigorous imprisonment on Monday. He was also fined Rs100,000.
Jailed for concealing his Canadian nationality, Akhtar Buland Rana has been released on bail
Talking to Dawn, the former AGP said he was unnecessarily dragged into the controversy as it was an official of the Directorate General of Immigration and Passports who had filled his declaration form and erroneously omitted mentioning his Canadian nationality.
The FIA alleged that Mr Rana had “wrongfully and with mala fide intentions” concealed his Canadian citizenship in his declaration forms.
According to the FIR (67/2015), Mr Rana obtained five Pakistani passports while holding the Canadian passport.
He obtained the first passport from the regional office in Islamabad in 1998.
The second passport was issued to him from Toronto, Canada, in 2002. Two more official machine-readable passports (MRP) were issued in 2005 and 2011. In 2012, he was also issued a diplomatic passport. Besides, Mr Rana was holding a Canadian passport which constituted an offence under section 6 of the Passport Act 1974.
The passport office website states that official passports are issued only to Pakistani nationals who are members of parliament, provincial ministers, judges of high courts and the Supreme Court and government officers going abroad on official assignments.
The investigation officer stated that a case was registered against Mr Rana on the complaint of the AGP office’s administration director, Mohammad Saleem Khan, with the consent of the relevant authority. The role of the passport office officials will also be figured out during the course of investigation, he stated.
In May 2015, the federal government sacked Mr Rana after the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) found him guilty of misconduct.
In 2014, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in a report had revealed that Mr Rana withdrew Rs4.62 million from the national exchequer in excess of his salary and privileges in violation of rules and regulations.
The PAC had written to the president to file a reference against Mr Rana with the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) the same year.
Mr Rana’s was the only case the SJC decided since its establishment in 1973.
In August 2014, he directed the audit officials not to attend PAC meetings until its Chairman Khursheed Ahmed Shah was replaced with a non-PPP member.
He was of the opinion that since the PAC was set to take up audit reports relating to the PPP’s stint in power from 2008 to 2013, Mr Shah should not chair the meetings.
FIA prosecutor Kaleem Tarrar said the investigation agency would file an appeal for the cancellation of the bail granted to Mr Rana.
Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2017