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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to submit a report within a week about an officer of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) against whom two corruption cases were dropped after he managed to declare himself dead.

On the other hand, the officer shown dead in the NAB record reached the court to inform the judges that he was alive.

The division bench, comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, decided to hold the next hearing in 10 days.

In September, Samiullah Khan Durrani, the owner of a pharmaceutical company, in his complaint to the court alleged that Sheikh Akhtar Hussain along with four other people was involved in financial embezzlement worth millions of rupees and NAB had filed two references against them in 2001 and 2004.

IHC directs NAB to submit report on how the officer managed to declare himself dead to avoid two corruption cases

According to the complaint of Mr Durrani, the four people completed their punishment but Mr Akhtar managed to declare himself dead after which the cases against him were closed.

According to the NAB reference of 2004 signed by its then chairman retired Lt Gen Munir Hafiez, Mr Akhtar was accused of embezzling Rs51 million.

The reference filed in 2001 and signed by the then NAB chairman retired Lt Gen Khalid Maqbool alleged that Mr Akhtar had embezzled Rs1 million.

However, in both the references Mr Akhtar was declared as a deceased. As per practice, no case can be pursued against any person after their death.

Supreme Court lawyer Khawaja Mohammad Farooq, who has been contesting the case on behalf of Mr Durrani, told Dawn that NAB had stopped action against the officer after he declared himself dead.

“During the hearing of the matter on Monday, Mr Akhtar along with his lawyer reached the court and informed the bench that he was very much alive. However, Mr Akhtar’s lawyer claimed that the other four people had been acquitted so Mr Akhtar should be considered innocent. But the court observed that without trial the suspect cannot be declared innocent,” said Mr Farooq.

“Though the NAB representative said a committee had been constituted which would take 15 days to submit a report as the case was old and its record was in Karachi, the court directed the bureau to submit the report within a week,” he said.

The lawyer said he had learnt that the NAB chairman had also taken notice of the case and ordered an inquiry.

“I believe that NAB will submit its report within a week after which it will become clear how the officer was declared dead to save him from the trial,” he said.

Member National Assembly (MNA) Chaudhry Iftikhar Nazir of the PML-N had also written to the Establishment Division and NAB to look into the matter.

Two months ago, the Cabinet Division sought a report from the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) on the matter. When the ministry directed Drap to submit a report, the latter tasked one of its officers in grade 17 with holding an inquiry against Mr Akhtar, who is in grade 20. The inquiry officer declared all the allegations baseless.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2017