An accountability court on Wednesday extended the remand of two detained builders for 14 more days in connection with a probe into reports of fraud in the Fazaia Housing Scheme Karachi (FHSK).
During the hearing today, the court was informed about how the land was acquired in the name of ‘shuhada (martyrs) and war heroes’, but hardly any units were allotted to the same. The investigation officer also highlighted how some Pakistan Air Force (PAF) officials had lured their own peers into purchasing housing units and made millions in the process.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had arrested Tanveer Ahmed and Bilal Tanveer, said to be associated with Maxim Properties, for allegedly depriving the public of Rs18 billion through investments in the FHSK.
On Wednesday, the investigating officer of the case, Aslam Pervez Abro, produced both the suspects before the administrative judge of the accountability courts, Fariq Anwar Qazi, and sought extension in their physical custody for further interrogation and investigation.
The IO submitted a progress report, stating that during the course of interrogation further evidence had come on record that both the suspects were involved in cheating the public at large in the FHSK in connivance with officials of the PAF.
Blatant violation of laws
“In execution and launching of the FHSK, the suspects blatantly flouted the relevant government laws and carried out advertisement, sale, development and booking without getting approval of its layout plan from the Malir Development Authority and No-Objection Certificate from the Sindh Building Control Authority,” the report states.
The report, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, adds that the suspects “got the land of the project illegally consolidated/ adjusted/ exchanged with the MDA through a letter dated June 19, 2015, which was subsequently cancelled by the MDA on July 7, 2015”. Yet, they illegally occupied the government land by erecting a boundary wall around the project site and carried out construction work, it adds.
The report mentions that the record received from the deputy commissioner further showed that some of the survey numbers of the land transferred by the suspect, Tanvir Ahmed, in favour of PAF fell within the planned land for requisition by the government for the K-IV project and maintained that the scrutiny of the land record was underway to determine further land survey numbers falling within the K-IV project.
The IO informed that neither did the suspects obtain approval or NOC from the SBCA nor was the project excluded from the provisions of the Sindh Building Control Ordinance, 1979, by the Sindh government. He quoted the SBCA as reporting that it had advised the management of the FHSK several times to get approval/NOC in respect of the project under the SBCO. Furthermore, the SBCA also issued a show-cause notice to the FHSK over reports of unauthorised construction and sale activities on January 8, 2020, the report adds.
For shuhada only
“The record collected from the Chief Minister Sindh House shows that the officials of the PAF had applied to the Chief Minister Sindh for excluding all operations of SBCO-1979 from the FHSK,” the report states, adding that the “CM’s principal secretary replied on Jan 10, 2017, that the CM Sindh, vide a summary dated Jan 10, 2017, had allowed the concessions only for allotment of residential accommodation to the heirs of the shuhada only.”
During the course of investigation, the report states, it also surfaced that the PAF started this project in the name of rehabilitation of war heroes and shuhada’s families, but records show that of the 8,400 planned housing units, only 30 units have been allotted to the families of shuhada , which negates the very purpose of this housing scheme.
It adds that during scrutiny of the record, it emerged that the detained builders, in connivance with the PAF officials, collected Rs18.2bn under the heads of form fees, registration, open certificate, standard and luxury apartments, surcharge, transfer fees, overseas apartments, overseas transfer fee, bungalows, the surcharge, transfer and proceedings fee for the bungalows and direct deposits.
The report stated that both the builders collected the amount from 5,732 affectees, adding that the figure did not include the PAF personnel who were lured into purchasing housing units by the PAF officials within their own department.
The prosecutor pleaded the judge to extend the physical remand of the suspects in custody of the NAB for 14 days in order to enable the IO to analyse and check hundreds of thousands of banking transactions on account of payment of instalments by the affectees and probe into other aspects and determine the role of the officials nominated in the case.
On the other hand, the defence counsel for the suspects, Ravi Panjani, opposed the plea for extension in remand of his clients in the custody of the NAB and pleaded the court to remand them in judicial custody.
Allowing the request, the judge extended their physical remand in NAB custody for two weeks with a direction to produce them on the next date along with a progress report.