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PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Wednesday granted bail to archaeology and museums director Dr Abdus Samad arrested by the National Accountability Bureau three months ago for misusing authority in appointments to different archaeological sites in the province.

Accepting his bail plea, Justice Roohul Amin Chamkani and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim asked Dr Samad to furnish two surety bonds of Rs5 million each.

The petitioner was arrested on Feb 14 by the NAB Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during a visit to its offices, where he was called for responding to certain questions regarding the appointments issue.

The NAB alleged that the petitioner had made around 100 appointments in violation of rules.

Shumail Ahmad Butt, lawyer for the petitioner, claimed that his client’s arrest was illegal and was made in the absence of the solid evidence of his alleged wrongdoing.

He said Dr Samad was an archaeologist of international repute, who held a PhD degree from University of Freie Berlin, Germany, and remained a Fulbright scholar in field of archaeology at the University of Wisconsin, USA.

The lawyer said his client was awarded the Pride of Performance by the government on Mar 23, 2018, in recognition of his meritorious services in the field of archaeology.

He said a woman, who was appointed as a graduate archaeologist in the department on Jan 25, 2013, was relieved from service after her post was advertised for filling through a public service commission examination.

The lawyer said that woman turned hostile against his client and lodged a complaint with the archaeology secretary levelling ‘baseless’ allegations against his client, including that of harassment, but an inquiry committee cleared him.

He said the woman later filed similar complaints with NAB, erstwhile Ehtesab Commission and Anti-Corruption Establishment, which began proceedings against the petitioner and issued call-up notices to him simultaneously.

The lawyer said the petitioner provided all relevant documents to the investigating bodies to prove his innocence.

He added that his client had followed the laid-down procedure while making appointments to archaeological sites as it was necessary in light of illegal excavations there.

The lawyer said the NAB had so far failed to prove any mala fide in those appointments on part of his client and that it was on record that nothing was missing from the Peshawar Museum for which her could be held accountable.

Senior NAB prosecutor Azeem Dad opposed the grant of bail to the petitioner saying the accused had violated the relevant rules for the recruitment of around 100 people to the department by not involving the Employment Exchange Commission.

He added that the inquiry found the petitioner to be involved in replacing an antique gun, an ancient copy of the Holy Quran and historical coins in the Peshawar museum with fake ones.

The prosecutor said the petitioner had broken the law by drawing huge salary from foreign-funded projects.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2019