PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has directed the National Accountability Bureau not to pressure the owners of six engineering and construction firms involved in a Peshawar city conservation project for plea bargain, and handle them during any inquiry strictly in accordance with the law.

A bench consisting of Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Shakeel Ahmad disposed of the joint petition filed by the chief executive and managing directors of the six firms after special public prosecutor of NAB, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mohammad Riaz Mohmand assured it that the petitioners would be treated in accordance with law on the subject.

The petitioners, including chief executive of Arch-Tech Engineering and Consultants Limited and five others, had accused the investigation officers of NAB, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, of harassing them to force them for testifying against some high-ups of the archaeology department about irregularities in the Upgradation of Archaeological Complex Gor Khatri, Artisan Village and Conservation of Peshawar Walled City project, commonly known as the Heritage Trail project.

They requested the court to declare the plea bargain demand and arrest threats by the investigation officers illegal.

Disposes of harassment petition

The petitioners also sought orders for the NAB to treat them in accordance with the law and restrain it from ‘unjustified’ call-up notices, harassment, physical torture, and arrest.

The respondents in the petition were the NAB chairman and its KP director-general.

“It is by now well settled that every citizen or any other person for the time being in Pakistan is guaranteed as his unalienable right to enjoy the protection of law and to be treated in accordance with law, wherever he may be, and in particular, no action detrimental to the life, liberty, body, reputation or property shall be taken, except in accordance with law,” the bench observed.

“It is the duty of each and every citizen and even the State to work within the framework of the Constitution and law,” the bench added.

Advocates Mian Muhibullah Kakakhel and Saifullah Muhib represented the petitioners and stated that their clients were supervisor and contractors of the said project.

They contended that the project was one of utmost importance to the city because it was based on preservation of the walled city Peshawar and all historical places therein.

They contended that the Nab had filed a reference against some officers of archaeology department and petitioners were being summoned through call up notices times and again to provide evidence against the said officers, who were accused of various malpractices and embezzlement of funds.

Main Muhibullah claimed that the petitioners were being subjected to mental torture and agony and were threatened with arrest and physical torture if they didn’t opt for plea bargain.

He contended that his clients were complying with all NAB orders and cooperating with it in all inquiries and investigations.

“The acts of NAB are illegal and violate the National Accountability Ordinance and its SOPs,” he said.

The lawyer said he won’t press the petition on merit if the respondents promised to handle his clients in accordance with the law.

Special prosecutor Mohammad Riaz Mohmand agreed on behalf of the NAB that the petitioners would be dealt with under the law.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2021

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