PESHAWAR: An accountability court here on Saturday acquitted four police officers, including the Intelligence Bureau’s director general, on the charge of the embezzlement of funds during the procurement of weapons for the police department in 2009-10.
Judge Naveed Ahmad Khan accepted the applications filed by four officers, including former DIG Headquarters Peshawar Dr Mohammad Suleman (now IB DG), former AIG (Establishment) at Central Police Office Kashif Alam (now AIG), former DIG (Telecommunications) Sadiq Kamal Orakzai (now retired) and DIG at the CPO Sajid Ali Khan (now Bannu DIG), under Section 265-K of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Section 265-K empowers the trial court to acquit an accused at any stage of the case if it doesn’t see any probability of the accused being convicted.
The court, however, didn’t decide identical applications filed by two other officers, including former commandant of Frontier Constabulary Abdul Majeed Marwat and former additional IGP (Operation) Abdul Latif Gandapur, both now retired, and fixed Aug 28 for hearing into them.
Decision on pleas of two other accused next month
The four acquitted applicants had requested the court not to frame charge against them and order their release, insisting there is no evidence against them in the case.
“There was no charge of any material gains against us,” an accused said.
“The case against us was of procedural lapse, which could have been dealt with departmentally.”
“It took eight years from the trial court, to the high court, to the supreme court and back to the trial court. Every “t” and every “i” was dotted. Those were tough eight years, when you are unfairly accused of something you have not done.
We risked our careers when we were going to procure weapons during the height of the war on terror. And we might see another war coming soon. Who will put his signature on procurement orders now?” the officer asked. “Today, we stand vindicated.”
Lawyers Syed Mudassir Ameer and Saeed Khan Afridi appeared for the applicants and contended that there was no material available with the trial court to indict their clients and further proceeding with their case would only be a waste of time.
Currently, former provincial police chief Malik Naveed Khan and budget officer of police Jawed Khan are the prime accused in the case. They were indicted on July 7, 2015, by the accountability court.
The prime accused were indicted for receiving kickbacks from Arshad Majeed, a private contractor, who turned approver in the case, and inflicting a loss of Rs2031.25 million during procurement of weapons and equipment for the police department in 2009-10. They had pleaded not guilty to the charge and have been facing trial for a couple of years.
Except the two prime accused, the six other police officers charged in the reference were not arrested.
The National Accountability Bureau, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, had claimed that those six officers were chairmen and members of the relevant purchase committee, who didn’t fulfil their responsibilities during the purchase of weapons.
The court observed that the allegations against the accused, including Abdul Majeed Khan and Abdul Latif, were that they had remained chairman of the purchase committee, while the other accused, including Sajid Ali, Kashif Alam and Sadiq Kamal, were not notified as members of the committee and were co-opted members.
It added that Dr Suleman was a notified member of the committee but the role of the four applicants was different from Abdul Majeed and Abdul Latif’s.
The counsel for applicants contended that their clients were senior police officers carrying impeccable reputation, mostly serving on sensitive posts.
They argued that though there’re no allegations against their clients, they were named in the reference, which was the outcome of presumptions and surmises.
The reference in the case was filed by the NAB against 10 people, including the two prime accused, six police officers, who were not held, former chief minister Amir Haider Hoti’s brother Amir Ghazan Khan and Ghazan’s brother-in-law Raza Ali.
Ghazan was acquitted by the court, while Raza Ali was freed after he made a plea bargain with the NAB.
Contractor Arshad Majeed was arrested by the NAB on Feb 21, 2013, on the charge of giving kickbacks to different people, including Malik Naveed and Javed Khan, to secure contracts.
However, he was released on bail granted by the Peshawar High Court after he agreed to voluntarily return Rs102 million. He was not charged in the reference as the NAB claimed that he had turned approver and would appear before the court as the prosecution witness.
Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2021