RAWALPINDI: An anti-corruption court on Wednesday rejected the pre-arrest bail applications of property tycoon Malik Riaz and his son, Ali Riaz, in a land fraud case and summoned them for the next hearing on Oct 15 with a warning that non-bailable warrants against them would be issued in case of their absence.
The dismissal of the bail pleas has enabled the anti-corruption establishment to arrest the property tycoon and his son in the case.
Public Prosecutor Sheikh Istijabat told Dawn that the court dismissed their bail pleas due to “non-prosecution as both father and son were not in attendance” during Wednesday’s proceedings.
Earlier, the counsel for the property tycoon, Zahid Bukhari, requested Judge Rana Nisar Ahmed of the anti-corruption court not to reject his application and assured him that his client would appear before the court.
The counsel for the complainants, residents of villages near Rawat, in the land fraud case requested the court to issue warrants of arrest against Malik Riaz.
The judge, however, issued summons for both property tycoon and his son for appearance on Oct 15 and warned them that in case of their absence, non-bailable arrest warrants would be issued against them.
The anti-corruption establishment had registered a case against Bahria Town and some Punjab revenue officials on the complaint of the villagers on Nov 4, 2009. According to the complaint, Malik Riaz, his son and others allegedly bribed the revenue officials to get the 1,401 kanals of ‘shamilat’ or community land transferred to their own names on ‘fake’ documents.
After the dismissal of the bail pleas on Wednesday, Malik Riaz tweeted: “To the over enthusiastic media channels, court reporters & social media vigilantes, I regret to inform that no court in Pakistan has issued my “arrest Warrants” in any case but issued summons to appear in court on next date.”
The land fraud case was transferred from the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) to the accountability court in October 2012 after a year-long legal battle between the ACE and National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
In October 2011, the ACE had issued arrest warrants against the property tycoon and his son in the land fraud case. Malik Riaz then filed a petition before the Lahore High Court (LHC) to quash the inquiry, but later withdrew it. In the meantime, NAB asked the ACE to hand over the case record for which the then NAB chairman, retired Admiral Fasih Bokhari, issued a notification in November 2011.
NAB then exonerated both Malik Riaz and his son, Ali Riaz, in the land fraud case.
The ACE meanwhile had challenged the transfer of the case in the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench which held that the investigation conducted by the ACE was in accordance with the law.
When the matter reached the Supreme Court, the apex court in September 2015 ordered NAB to investigate whether Mr Bukhari and other officers had, by writing the application to the special judge, misused their position.
The apex court observed that NAB should not have exonerated the accused. In compliance with the SC order, the case was transferred to the anti-corruption court and proceedings were commenced against the property tycoon and his son.
In January 2016, the Supreme Court taking up the matter again stayed the earlier order and restrained the anti-corruption court from proceeding in the matter. The stay order was later withdrawn following which the ACC resumed proceeding in this case.
Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2019