PESHAWAR: An accountability court here on Friday acquitted five persons of the charge of embezzling Rs76 million of the forest royalty funds in Chitral.
Judge Naveed Ahmad Khan ruled that as per the evidence available the accused, including ex-councillor Prince Khalid Pervez, ex-sub-divisional forest officer Gulzarur Rehman and three private persons namely Noor Shahideen, Rehmat Karim and Malik Shaye, did not commit the offence.
The National Accountability Bureau, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, had arrested the accused in 2015. Later, the Peshawar High Court had granted them bail.
The NAB claimed that according to the findings of an inquiry it had conducted a joint forest management committee was mandated to ensure equal distribution of royalty funds among the royalty holders of Bamburat area of Chitral as per the policy of the forest department.
However, it said one of the suspects, Noor Shahideen, set up a fake joint forest management committee and made himself its chairman through the connivance of other accused, thus embezzling Rs76 million through complex banking transactions.
A panel of lawyers, including Barrister Waqar Ahmad, Qazi Jawad Ehsanullah and Fida Gul, appeared for the defence and stated that prior to the NAB inquiry, cases were registered against their clients and other suspects on the complaints of some local residents, but they were granted bail by court.
The lawyers said subsequently the NAB had assumed the jurisdiction in the case and arrested the accused in an arbitrary manner.
The counsel for the defence argued that the case pertained to a civil dispute among different parties in which the NAB had no jurisdiction to intervene.
Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2021