LAHORE: An accountability court on Saturday sought arguments from the counsel for former railways minister Khwaja Saad Rafique after the counsel of his brother, MPA Khwaja Salman Rafique, closed his arguments against the jurisdiction of the court to hear Paragon City scam against the siblings.

“There is no allegation of corruption against them or misuse of national exchequer being public office-holder,” Advocate Amjad Pervaiz said in his arguments, adding that a case regarding a private business did not fall within the domain of National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.

He said the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) was the competent authority to look into such matters under Companies Act 2017. Had the SECP filed the case against the Khwaja brothers there would have been no question on the court’s jurisdiction, he said.

However, the instant proceedings before the court were under the NAO, the counsel further argued, and urged the court to set aside the indictment of the petitioners.

Opposing the defence, NAB prosecutor Hafiz Asadullah Awan argued that there were rulings by the Supreme Court that the trial court could not entertain an appeal against the indictment. He said the apex court also gave priority to the NAO over the Companies Act 2017. He also submitted a comparative analysis of both laws.

Presiding Judge Jawadul Hassan adjourned further hearing till Oct 14 and asked Advocate Ashtar Ausaf, counsel of Khwaja Saad, to come up with his arguments. The judge also extended judicial remand of the suspects.

In the reference the NAB accused the Khwaja brothers of wrongfully gaining Rs18.2 million approximately from M/s Paragon City (Pvt) Limited in their bank accounts. It said the Khwaja brothers through their benamidars and with the abetment of former MPA Qaiser Amin Butt and Nadeem Zia established a housing project by the name of Air Avenue.

It said the suspects along with other accomplices cheated the public at large and obtained illegal financial benefits from the funds of the illegal society.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2019