KARACHI: An anti-corruption court indicted on Saturday Sindh Health Secretary Fazlullah Pechuho and two officials of the education department in a graft case.

Mr Pechuho, the then education secretary who is also a brother-in-law of former president Asif Ali Zardari, along with section officer Abdul Jabbar and junior clerk Iftikhar Hussain, has been charged with allegedly demanding a bribe from a suspended schoolteacher for his restoration in August 2014.

The accused appeared in court on Saturday and Judge Iqbal Hussain Maitlo of the Special Provincial Anti-Corruption Court read out the charges against them. However, they pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the case.

Mr Pechuho is currently posted as the provincial health secretary.

The court summoned all prosecution witnesses for their evidence on Oct 14.

The court had lodged a direct complaint in February 2016 against the then education secretary and two officials after Mohammad Mithal moved the court against them since the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) did not entertain his application.

He submitted that he was appointed a primary schoolteacher in 1992 and promoted to high schoolteacher in 2013. But the education secretary and other respondents suspended 405 teaching and non-teaching staff, including him, he added.

He alleged that Mr Pechuho in connivance with Mr Jabbar and Mr Hussain demanded a bribe of Rs200,000 for his reinstatement and he paid the amount in the presence of some witnesses at a restaurant near the Sindh Secretariat.

He stated in the complaint that both the education department employees had again demanded a bribe, but he refused and thus the respondents issued him a show-cause notice and extended threats through text messages on his mobile phone.

The applicant submitted that he then approached the district and sessions court (South) for registration of an FIR against them.

On Dec 30, 2014 the court ordered the ACE director to take action against them in accordance with the law, but to no avail, he added.

In the meantime, the respondents reinstated the suspended employees after taking a huge bribe from them, he alleged.

The applicant said he came to know that the education secretary and others promoted some education department officials after receiving a bribe.

The trial court had also appointed an officer of the ACE to hold an inquiry into the allegations in 2016. Later, the inquiry report was placed in court.

After recording the statement of the applicant under Section 200 (examination of complainant) of the Criminal Procedure Code, the court had taken cognizance and registered a direct complaint against Mr Pechuho and two others under Sections 161 (public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 5 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act-II, 1949.

Remand extended in maid torture case

A judicial magistrate extended the police remand of three suspects in a case pertaining to torture of a teenage maid.

Police had booked Abdul Razzaq, his wife Maryam along with three members of their domestic staff, including a woman, for allegedly subjecting the 16-year-old girl to torture at their house in the Defence Housing Authority.

On Sept 14, the court had sent both the women to prison and granted two-day police remand of the three male suspects.

After the end of their remand, the police produced the suspects in court and sought an extension in their custody for further questioning. The court remanded the suspects for one more day.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2017

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