ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court has observed that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cannot arrest an accused even if there is corroborative evidence against him, unless there are compelling reasons to believe that the suspect is not cooperating or may abscond.
The observation was made by an IHC bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Ghulam Azam Qambrani while confirming the pre-arrest bail of former Sindh minister Sharjeel Inam Memon in the Roshan programme case.
NAB’s deputy prosecutor general Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi informed the court that the bureau had corroborative evidence to connect Mr Memon with the allegations that he had misused his official position to award the project’s contract to a favourite firm and received kickbacks. He said contractor M/s Wadood Engineering had given Rs90 million as kickbacks, of which Rs7.7m was paid to Mr Memon.
“If you have sufficient material against him [Memon], then you should file a reference against him in the accountability court, proceed against him and produce this evidence for his maximum punishment by the trial court,” Justice Minallah remarked.
Asked how NAB connected the former provincial minister with the kickbacks, the prosecutor replied that the investigation officer had arrested the ex-director general of the Rural Development Authority who confessed to his crime and also disclosed that Mr Memon had received Rs7.7m as kickbacks in the Roshan programme project.
“This is your modus operandi, at the outset NAB arrests the principal accused, records his statement to implicate others and at the end the main accused is pardoned,” Justice Minallah remarked.
Mr Abbasi said Omni Group’s chief financial officer Aslam Masood had in his statement recorded before NAB pointed out that Ashfaq Leghari had drawn cash from the bank on behalf of Mr Memon.
The investigation officer, however, informed the court that Ashfaq Leghari could not be interrogated since he had absconded.
The court wondered why NAB was interested in detaining Mr Memon despite the fact that he had been behind bars for about two years — from Oct 25, 2017 to June 25, 2019. “Were you waiting for his release to arrest him again?” asked the court.
The NAB prosecutor replied that investigation into the matter was authorised in February 2019 and the role of Mr Memon in this case was established in October the same year.
When the prosecution said Mr Memon did not share details of his assets, Justice Minallah asked why the investigation officer did not requisition such details from the Federal Board of Revenue.
Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2020