LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday granted bail to two co-accused of former LDA director general Ahad Khan Cheema in the Ashiana Housing Scheme case and barred them from travelling abroad till a final decision.

A division bench headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi passed the order and directed LDA Chief Engineer Israr Saeed and Punjab Land Development Company Chief Engineer retired Col Arif Majeed to deposit Rs1 million each.

The bench also directed the accused to submit their passports with the National Accountability Bureau.

Both of the accused were taken into custody by the NAB authorities soon after the arrest of Ahad Khan Cheema who is still on physical remand.

On March 29, a NAB prosecutor had told an accountability court that both Israr Saeed and Arif Majeed had become approver after which both of them approached the Lahore High Court to seek bails.

The suspects contended through their counsel that they were dragged in the case only for complying with the official direction of Mr Cheema, being director general of the LDA. The petitioners asked the court to grant them bail as they were no more required by the bureau.

The NAB authorities had arrested six people — former LDA DG Ahad Khan Cheema, Bismillah Engineering Company owner Shahid Shafiq, Israr Saeed, Arif Majeed, PLDC’s former chief executive officer Imtiaz Haider and another PLDC official, Bilal Qudwai, for their alleged involvement in the housing scam.

Ahad Khan Cheema was arrested a few months ago on charges of misusing his authority and, with criminal intent, processing and awarding the Ashiana-i-lqbal project contract worth Rs14 billion to the Lahore CASA Developers, a joint venture firm which was ineligible for the same. The contract was awarded in violation of law.

NAB inquiry further revealed that Bismillah Engineering Services Co (a major shareholder of JV titled Lahore CASA Developers) was a proxy firm working on behalf of Paragon City (Pvt) Ltd.

Cheema allegedly received illegal gratification in the form of 32 kanal (valuing Rs30.09 million approximately from the owners of Paragon City (Pvt) Ltd).

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2018

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