PESHAWAR: An accountability court on Wednesday acquitted a former special secretary of the home department of illegal assets.

The National Accountability Bureau had filed a corruption reference against Siraj Ahmad.

Judge Ishtiaq Ahmad ruled that the prosecution failed to establish its case against the defendant.

The NAB, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, had alleged that during his service, the defendant had acquired moveable and immovable properties from ill-gotten money.

It added that the defendant had Rs109.3 million assets, which were disproportionate to the known sources of his income.

Qazi Jawad Ahsanullah and Mohammad Waqas, lawyers for the former secretary, said it was on record that their client and his wife had inherited valuable properties from own fathers.

They added that some properties were commercial from where the defendant and his family received rent.

The counsel said the prosecution in the presence of inherited commercial properties and income of the couple from different rents as available on record along with savings from the salary of the defendant had failed to prove that the accused had properties disproportionate to the valid source of his income.

The court observed that during cross-examination, the investigation officer in unambiguous terms declared that he hadn’t found any case of allegation against the accused of misuse of authority, receipt of corruption, kickbacks and bribery.

The court observed that the mere ownership of property itself was no offence.

“Even the prosecution is required to establish the necessary ingredients and then burden shifts to the accused to explain position as required under Section 14(C) of National Accountability Ordinance, 1999,” it ruled.

The court observed that under the law, it was incumbent on the prosecution to bring on record the known sources of income of the accused at the relevant time and that the properties of the accused were disproportionate to the known sources of his income.

It, however, observed that in the case, the prosecution failed to properly disclose the known sources of income of the accused, including commercial properties, and correct computation of his salary along with allowances.

In the judgment, the court discussed all properties of the accused in detail and how they’re acquired including the one inherited by him and wife.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2020