KARACHI: An accountability court on Saturday disapproved a plea bargain agreement between two builders and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as the accused failed to compensate around 600 affectees of an 18-year-old residential project.

Rauf Ahmed Rufi and Manzoor Ahmed Rufi, the owners of M/s Rufi Builders and Developers, were booked and detained for cheating the public out of an amount of around Rs1.57 billion through booking of plots in the names of around 600 allottees in the Rufi Global City project, but failed to give possession to them till date.

On Saturday, Accountability Court-III Judge Dr Sher Bano Karim issued warrant for arrest of both the builders and reopened a reference pertaining to corruption of around Rs1.57bn against them.

Earlier, NAB’s special public prosecutor Zahid Hussain Baladi moved an application submitting that the court had on May 29, 2019 allowed an application of both the builders to approve a plea bargain reached by them with the NAB authorities on terms and conditions, including an undertaking that they would either return the money or hand over possession of the plots to all the affectees within six months.

Therefore, the court had closed the reference against them and had ordered their release from prison.

NAB seeks cancellation of a 2019 agreement with owners of Rufi Builders who failed to give plots to 600 allottees

However, the prosecutor stated that the accused persons failed to comply with the court’s order and did not compensate the affectees/allottees as agreed by them at the time of passing of the May 2019 order. Therefore, he pleaded to the court to reopen the case against them and issue warrant for their arrest to face trial.

Advocate Zaheer H. Minhas for the builders argued that in compliance with the court’s order most of the leases had been executed in favour of a few allottees/affectees. However, prosecutor Baladi said that this practice/progress was conducted without the consent of NAB.

Advocate Waseem Riaz Shaikh, counsel for the affectees/allottees, also filed an application requesting the court to pass a restraining order against the accused persons with regard to new allotment/sub-leases in favour of people who were not the affectees/allottees.

He informed the court that the accused had been selling the plots initially allotted to the affectees, and in this way leases were executed in favour of other persons after the NAB prosecutor moved an application to reopen the case against them.

“Such an act of the accused persons is illegal and creates another interest over the subject plots,” the counsel argued.

A large number of the affectees/allottees also appeared in court and stated that they were not compensated as agreed by the accused persons and also admitted non-compliance of the court’s order through which the plea bargain of the accused persons was approved by the court.

After hearing arguments from the counsel for the parties, the judge allowed the application moved by NAB and recalled its May 29, 2019 order through which it had approved plea bargain of the accused persons with NAB.

The judge further ordered that the reference against the accused persons may be reopened to its original position/stage and directed both the parties to proceed with the case on merits.

According to NAB, Rufi Builders and Developers had launched a housing project, Rufi Global City, on a 45-acre piece of land along the Superhighway and had booked houses and received money in instalments. Later, they allegedly denied possession of 415 houses allotted to the public and also extorted money from them, it added.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2021

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