KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday expressed its displeasure with the National Accountability Bureau for failing to complete inquiries against petitioners in graft-related cases despite the lapse of a considerable period.
A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Omer Sial, came down hard on an investigating officer (IO) of NAB for not completing an inquiry initiated against two additional directors of the Karachi Development Authority (KDA).
Additional directors Atta Abbas Zaidi and Shahid Umer had filed petitions in April seeking pre-arrest bail to avoid their arrest in connection with call-up notices issued by NAB for the recovery of their personal service files.
They had already been booked in a reference pertaining to alleged corruption in the Lines Area Redevelopment Project (LARP).
At the outset, the NAB IO informed the bench that the petitioners were basically officers of grade-5, but they allegedly unlawfully got posted as additional directors in grade-19 in the KDA.
He stated that the personal service files of both the petitioners were found missing from the official records and the same were said to have been in their possession. He asked the court to direct the petitioners to return the files.
The court deplores that corruption is rampant in the country and Sindh is sinking in it
However, Advocates Shaukat Hayat and Mohammad Farooq, who represented the petitioners, maintained that their clients were innocent and the allegations levelled against them were false.
Addressing the counsel, Justice Sial remarked that every respectable lawyer argued that his client was innocent.
The judge also deplored that corruption was rampant in the country and Sindh was sinking in it.
Justice Sial observed that the court would not allow the NAB authorities to drag people for years in inquiries.
He directed the NAB IO to complete the inquiry within one month and submit its report to the court.
The bench cautioned that in case the same was not done within the stipulated time then the officers found responsible for the delay would have to face the consequences.
Fixing the matter for Feb 15, it also extended interim pre-arrest bail granted to the petitioners till the next date.
NAB told to complete inquiry in two weeks
Hearing a bail application, the same bench expressed its extreme displeasure with a NAB IO for not completing an inquiry initiated against the headmaster of a government school despite the lapse of two years.
The petitioner, Abdul Hafeez, submitted that the provincial anti-corruption department had already initiated an inquiry against him with regard to the allegations of corruption during his tenure as the headmaster in Darya Khan village, district Shikarpur.
However, he submitted that NAB also issued him a call-up notice in a separate inquiry initiated into the same matter.
The petitioner regretted that while he remained confined in prison for two years, NAB did not complete the said inquiry and he was being repeatedly issued call-up notices till date.
Justice Sial inquired from the NAB IO as to why they had failed to complete the inquiry even after the lapse of two years. He further inquired as to why NAB was also conducting an inquiry in a case in which the anti-corruption department had already initiated a probe.
The IO stated that the inquiry against the petitioner pertained to the accumulation of assets worth Rs56 million through unlawful means. He added that the amount involved in the alleged scam was beyond the scope of the anti-corruption department to hold an inquiry. Therefore, he pleaded to the court to direct the authorities concerned to transfer the entire case to NAB.
Rejecting the IO’s request, the bench directed him to complete the inquiry assigned to him within two weeks and submit a report to the court.
Reduced seats of medical college in Lyari
Another bench of the SHC on Friday directed the provincial health secretary to hold a meeting with the principal of the under-construction Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical College and Lyari General Hospital to find out a solution to the issue of reduction in the seats of the college.
A petition was moved by some candidates interested in taking admission to the college in Lyari against a decision of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) for reducing the seats from 100 to 50.
During Friday’s proceedings, the health secretary appeared on a notice issued by the court.
Headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, the bench inquired from the secretary as to how the future of students could be saved.
The secretary submitted that the college had issues related to maladministration due to its principal, who was also the project director and had allegedly been found involved in irregularities in the funds of the project.
The secretary added that the principal was posted at the college for the last five years and had obtained a stay order from a court against his transfer orders.
Principal Anjum Rehman, however, informed the bench that the information required by the PMDC regarding the availability of the requisite facilities at the college had been provided to the federal regulatory body.
The bench directed the secretary to submit a written reply till Jan 23 containing suggestions on how to resolve the issue of the seats.
The judges remarked that in case the secretary failed to furnish the written comments it would be deemed that the government was not interested in running the college.
The college’s principal was directed to hold a meeting with the authorities concerned in the health department for consultation on the matter and also furnish a list of the teaching staff required for the college.
Meanwhile, another bench issued an intimation notice to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader and federal minister Faisal Vawda to appear in court on Feb 1 when his petition against alleged corruption in the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation would be taken up.
Mr Vawda and his counsel were absent when the matter was taken up on Friday.
Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2019