KARACHI: An accountability court on Tuesday threw out identical applications challenging the maintainability of a reference against two suspects in a case pertaining to alleged illegal amalgamation of prime commercial land and its transfer to Bahria Town for a high-rise building.
Former Karachi mayor and Pak Sarzameen Party chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal, former executive district officer Iftikhar Kaimkhani and five others are facing trial in the case. They all appeared in court on bail on Tuesday.
The link judge, Farid Anwar Qazi, pronounced his order reserved earlier on the applications moved by Mr Kaimkhani and a builder, Mohammad Dawood, who had challenged the maintainability of the reference filed against them by the National Accountability Bureau.
The judge found the pleas devoid of merit and dismissed them.
In their applications, the defence counsel argued that NAB had failed to fulfil mandatory legal requirements and filed the reference against their clients without completing due legal process.
The court also dismissed an application moved by Bahria Town’s Zain Malik, the son-in-law of real estate tycoon Malik Riaz, who had pleaded to the court to allow his counsel to represent him during the case proceedings since he was under treatment in London and could not travel to the country to appear in court.
The court issued non-bailable warrants against absconding suspects including Mr Malik and builder Mohammad Yaqoob over their continuous failure to appear before the court and join the trial.
The IO was directed to arrest them and produce in court on the next date of hearing.
In June, the administrative judge had admitted the reference against Mr Kamal, then district coordination officer Karachi Fazlur Rehman, Mr Kaimkhani, then district officer Mumtaz Haider, then additional DO Syed Nishat Ali and then sub-registrar-II, Clifton, Nazir Zardari.
Five builders — Mr Malik, Mr Dawood, Mr Yaqoob, Mohammad Irfan and Mohammad Rafiq — all associated with M/s DJ Builders and Developers have also been nominated in the reference.
According to the reference, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation in 1982 created 198 stalls/shops on two amenity plots adjacent to the Kothari Parade for dislocated hawkers while four commercial plots, each measuring 255.55 square yards, were also created in the locality.
It alleged that DJ Builders purchased four commercial plots and 198 stalls of the hawkers. However, the two amenity plots were never transferred in the builder’s name.
NAB alleged that Mr Malik and others associated with DJ Builders in connivance with Mr Kamal, ex-DCO Rehman and others unlawfully got amalgamated the plots and 102 stalls and subsequently got them transferred in favour of Bahria Town Private Limited through a conveyance deed without obtaining permission from the Karachi Development Authority.
It alleged that the price was shown in the registration deed as only Rs260 million while its market value was assessed at Rs2.155 billion and the forced sale value at Rs1.724bn.
Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2019