KARACHI: An accountability court has approved a plea bargain between eight builders and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in an around Rs1 billion scam pertaining to illegal occupation of over 330 plots in Pak Punjab Cooperative Housing Society Limited.

The accused persons and their abettors — M. Iqbal Memon, M. Ibrahim, Ms Farida, M. Arif Siddique, M. Aslam Siddique, Faisal Waseem, M. Javed and M. Arif Bashir — have been charged with usurping the plots of 358 allottees.

Accountability Court-I Judge Rashida Asad approved the applications filed by the accused persons requesting to approve the plea bargain reached by them with the NAB authorities under Section 25(b) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

The defence counsel informed that the applicants had entered into a plea bargain with the federal anti-graft watchdog and offered to withdraw 32 acres of the subject land, comprising over 330 plots, to the genuine allottees of the housing society. The court was also informed that the NAB authorities had accepted their plea bargain under these terms and conditions in December 2018. Therefore, the court was pleaded to approve the plea bargain reached by the eight applicants with NAB.

Investigating Officer Sarwar Ahmed Khan verified the approval of the plea bargain by the NAB authorities with the accused persons. The special prosecutor submitted that the prosecution had no objection if the plea bargain was approved by the court.

According to the prosecution, the accused persons illegally usurped the plots of 358 genuine allottees of Pak Punjab Cooperative Housing Society Limited comprising 25 acres of precious land situated in Sector 24-A of Scheme 33 in Karachi.

It also alleged that the accused persons illegally cancelled the allotments of genuine members of the society and enrolled new members on the platform of a new bogus society namely the Employees of Sindh Workers Welfare Board.

In February 2017, the anti-graft watchdog had arrested Sajid Ali Khan Yousufzai, said to be the ex-secretary of the society; Mirza Munir Baig, the then assistant registrar of the cooperation department government of Sindh; Khudadad Khan, then sub-registrar of Gulshan-II; M. Arif and Adnan.

The prosecution mentioned that the detained accused persons and others were involved in illegally selling and transferring the society’s plots to Falaknaz Builders, Marhaba and Platanium Builder and Sanober Builders in return for illegal consideration, committing offences of corruption and misuse of authority.

These builders constructed various illegal housing and commercial projects on the land of the society and earned billions, it added. It had nominated around 33 suspects, including the revenue officials, the builders and their alleged abettors.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2019

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