ISLAMABAD: As the date for ‘Azadi March’ of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) approaches, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) appears to be tightening the noose around its leader Akram Khan Durrani’s neck in a case of alleged illegal appointments in the Pakistan Public Works Department as the anti-graft body on Monday implicated PWD Director Deneral Shahid Farzand in the matter.
Mr Farzand had sought bail before arrest from the Islamabad High Court in an inquiry related to the inductions in the PWD when Akram Durrani was federal minister for housing and works.
Surprisingly, when the case was taken up on Monday, Mr Farzand was not in the courtroom. His counsel informed the court that his client had been advised not to appear before NAB until his bail before arrest petition was taken up by the IHC
Mr Farzand had appeared before an investigation team at NAB’s regional directorate of Rawalpindi and his mobile phone had been switched off since morning. The counsel said it appeared that NAB authorities had taken his client into custody.
The IHC division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani asked the counsel if he wanted to turn his application into a post-arrest bail petition.
Director general of PWD, where ‘illegal’ appointments were made, implicated in case
The counsel replied that he was not in contact with his client. Later, with the permission of the court, he withdrew the bail petition.
“In case he [Farzand] survives, you may file the petition again,” said Justice Farooq.
Sources in NAB, however, said that Mr Farzand was allowed to leave after a comprehensive grilling, as the bureau was giving full opportunity to the suspects to defend them.
Farzand’s counsel Shah Khawar said it was a routine practice that NAB waited for a final order of the court after it was informed about the filing of a pre-arrest bail petition.
He, however, said that after appearing before NAB his client did not contact him for filing a fresh petition.
Being the then chief engineer, Mr Farzand was in-charge of recruitment in BS-1 to 15 in the PWD.
In his bail petition, Mr Farzand said that he had invited applications for appointments against different positions on April 12, 2017, and the housing and works ministry had hired ‘Job Testing Service’ as a consultant for conducting the written test.
He said the ministry had constituted two committees — one of them headed by him and comprising the deputy secretary and chief administrative officer of the PWD finalised the appointments.
Mr Farzand said he received a call-up notice under Section 19 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, titled as “inquiry against Akram Durrani, federal minister for housing and works, officers, officials of Ministry of Housing and Works, management of JTS and others”.
The petitioner said that he had received the call-up notice on Oct 9 and appeared before NAB authorities. He claimed that the NAB authorities appreciated him for extending cooperation and gave an impression as if the matter had been resolved.
But later he came to know that PWD’s chief administrative officer Mukhtar Badshah Khattak was arrested on Oct 16, hence he apprehended that he may also be arrested.
Mr Farzand said he had nothing to do with the testing process or scrutiny of documents as the process of appointments was initiated prior to his posting as director general of the PWD.
The petitioner said the testing service, along with the housing and works ministry, was responsible to scrutinise the applications and being chairman of the committee he worked with honesty and dedication. He alleged that NAB was acting against him with malice and prejudicial mind to harass him as well as members of his family.
The petitioner requested the court to grant him bail before arrest and direct NAB to place the information related to the pending inquiry before the IHC.
Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2019