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HYDERABAD: Accountability court judge Inam Ali Kalhoro on Monday framed charges against former chairman and controller of examinations of Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC) and 18 other persons who were accused of having received illegal favours from the two officers in the combined competitive examinations (CCE) 2003-04 held by the commission.

All the accused denied the charge while the court fixed next date of hearing of the reference for Sept 26. The National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) reference (No. 3/2018) said that over Rs75 million loss had been caused to national kitty on account of salaries drawn by the accused since NAB launched the investigation into their appointment in violation of rules and regulations.

The court had, on last date of hearing, dismissed application for acquittal under Section 265-D CrPC of the accused Saifullah Abro, Mukhtiar Ahmed Shar, Mohammad Yaqoob, Mohammad Ibrahim Memon, Ghulam Murtaza Memon, Imran Qureshi, Aamir Zia Isran and Mohammad Saleem Shaikh. Eight out of 18 accused had filed the application.

The judge had observed then that the reference pertained to allegations of corruption and corrupt practices and influencing authorities of SPSC to obtain higher marks or reduce marks of other deserving candidates in CCE 2003-04 held in July 2003.

The accused, being undeserving candidates, influenced co-accused Mohammad Hassan Bhutto, former chairman of SPSC and Mohammad Umer Zounr, former controller of examinations and obtained higher marks to be able to get selected to different posts in various departments of Sindh government.

The court said that it had assessed the material available on record with the assistance of defence counsel and NAB special prosecutor Ghous Bux Kaheri which indicated apparent anomalies in different documents including some answer books of the accused.

It said that overwriting, addition and deletion on answer copies and other documents was apparent for which the defence counsel could not convince the conscience of this court to invoke the jurisdiction under Section 265-D CrPC.

Riazat Ali Sehar, counsel for former SPSC chairman and his son Ayan who was the co-accused, said that NAB had alleged that accused had colluded with each other to help the beneficiaries get selected by manipulating examination results. Ayan was selected as section officer and he was now deputy director in a provincial government department.

Mr Sehar said that accused claimed that everything was done on merit. The court was to examine around 18 to 19 witnesses, including officials and officers of SPSC who had provided record to NAB. The defence counsel said that the accused had denied the charge and they were ready for fair trial.

NAB had started investigation in 2015 after converting an inquiry into formal probe. The accused had taken the plea that the matter was already sub judice before the principal seat of the Sindh High Court, still they were challaned by NAB. It was a case of NAB officers’ personal grudge against them, they alleged.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2018