KARACHI: An accountability court on Friday remanded Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani in judicial custody till April 26 in connection with three inquiries against him.
Refusing the request of the investigating officer for extending his physical remand in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau for the fifth time, the administrative judge of the accountability courts, Dr Sher Bano Karim, directed the IO to produce Mr Durrani on the next date and also file a progress report.
NAB had arrested the speaker of the provincial assembly in February in a hotel in Islamabad to investigate him for allegedly accumulating movable and immovable assets beyond his known sources of income, making 352 illegal appointments, embezzlement of public funds in construction of the MPA Hostel and the new Sindh Assembly building as well as appointment of project directors for these schemes.
After the end of his last physical remand, the IO produced him again and requested for 15-day extension in his custody.
He informed the court that two close associates of Mr Durrani had already obtained pre-arrest bail in the present case and their statements were yet to be recorded.
He added that the statement of a witness, Zulfiqar Dahar who is allegedly looking after Mr Durrani’s financial affairs, had to be recorded in the presence of the PA speaker.
He said the detained speaker’s remand in NAB custody may be extended for questioning “for the last time”.
Opposing the IO’s request, defence counsel Amir Raza Naqvi contended that the court had extended his client’s remand on the last date by directing the IO to produce the documentary record related to the purported inquiries, but he failed to do so.
NAB’s special public prosecutor Zahid Hussain Baladi said that the record could not be produced since the IO in the present case was changed. He undertook to produce the same on the next date.
His statement annoyed the judge who berated him and the IO saying it was the duty of the prosecution to inform the court about the case instead of the court to ask for material.
Mr Naqvi contended that on the last date the former IO had also sought a “last” extension in Mr Durrani’s remand in NAB custody to “further question” him.
Turning down the IO’s request for further extension, the judge remanded Mr Durrani in judicial custody till April 26.
Meanwhile, the same court issued a notice to the NAB prosecutor and the IO for April 24 on an application filed by Mr Durrani seeking grant of bail.
His counsel argued that NAB had levelled the allegations of accumulating assets beyond known sources of income against the applicant, but so far had failed to provide details of his known sources of income.
He maintained that there was no likelihood of his client to abscond from the court and pleaded to grant him bail.
Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2019