KARACHI: An accountability court on Wednesday approved a plea bargain between the National Accountability Bureau and two detained builders, who pledged to compensate around 600 people affected by a housing scheme scandal after 18 years.
Rauf Ahmed Rufi and Manzoor Ahmed Rufi, the owners of M/s Rufi Builders and Developers, have been booked and detained in a case pertaining to cheating the public at large by denying possession of plots to around 600 allottees, who had made their payments around 18 years ago for the Rufi Global City project.
On Wednesday, the matter was fixed before accountability court-III judge Dr Sher Bano Karim, when the accused persons moved an application pleading to the court to accept their plea bargain signed with the federal anti-graft watchdog authorities in the land scam estimated at around Rs1.57 billion.
The accused persons had moved an application through their defence counsel Mudassar Zaidi mentioning that his clients had entered into a plea bargain arrangement with NAB authorities under Section 25(b) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 and the anti-graft watchdog had discharged them from the reference filed against them.
Accountability court approves plea bargain between NAB and builders
Therefore, the court was also pleaded to accept the plea bargain between the accused persons and the NAB authorities in accordance with the provisions of the NAO, 1999.
Advocate Nadeem Pirzada, who represented the committee of the affected persons, also informed the court that the affected persons had agreed to the new terms and conditions of the plea bargain offered by the builders, who had undertaken to compensate the affected persons.
He gave the consent on behalf of the committee of the affected persons and stated that his client had no objection if the plea bargain was approved by the court.
NAB prosecutor Shahbaz Sahotra submitted that the allottees would get plots at the same place where the project was initially promised to be launched 18 years ago by the builders. He also mentioned that the NAB authorities had already accepted the plea bargain with the accused persons after declining their offers twice earlier since they did not agree to the terms. The prosecutor gave his consent to the plea bargain.
After hearing arguments from the prosecutor, the defence counsel and the counsel representing the affected persons, the judge approved the plea bargain in the terms and conditions agreed between the parties, and disposed of the reference against the accused. The court also issued release orders for them.
However, the court disqualified the accused persons from holding any public office, contesting elections or obtaining loans from banks for 10 years.
Earlier, the affected persons had rejected the plea bargain between the accused persons and the NAB authorities objecting to the terms and conditions proposed by the builders.
According to the anti-graft watchdog, M/s Rufi Builders and Developers had launched a housing project named Rufi Global City on a 45-acre piece of land along the Superhighway and had booked houses and received money in instalments. Later, they allegedly denied possession of 415 houses allotted to the public and also extorted money from them, it added.
The watchdog had initiated an inquiry on the basis of the complaints of the affected persons and subsequently filed a reference against the builders last year.
Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2019