PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday suspended two notices issued by the anti-corruption establishment (ACE) asking MPA of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Fahim Ahmad to appear before it as part of a land grabbing inquiry.

A bench consisting of Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim issued notices to the ACE director and assistant director (crimes) asking them to file comments about Mr Ahmad’s petition against the call-up notices and ongoing inquiry.

It fixed Oct 13 for the next hearing into the petition, which requested it to declare the Sept 8 and 15 ACE notices and the ongoing inquiry against him on the matter illegal and based on mala fide and quash them all.

The respondents in the petition are the ACE director, assistant director (crimes) and the relevant inquiry officer.

Seeks ACE’s reply to plea against ongoing inquiry

Lajbar Khan Khalil, lawyer for the petitioner, insisted that the ACE’s inquiry against his client was based on mala fide and meant for his political victimisation.

He said that the petitioner, who was elected as a PTI MPA from the PK-72 Peshawar constituency, had highlighted irregularities in different development schemes to the annoyance of the provincial government, which used the ACE to victimise him.

The lawyer said that his client was a law-abiding citizen and had served as a member of the Peshawar district council from 2015 to 2018.

He said that after being elected as an MPA, the petitioner was appointed the chairman of the district development advisory committee for Peshawar in 2018.

Mr Khalil said that the petitioner had acted as the DDAC chairman until 2022.

He argued that the petitioner had joined the PTI to promote good governance and eradicate corruption from the society and that as the chairman of the DDAC, he had pointed out corruption in mega development projects.

The lawyer said the petitioner had not only discussed the said scams with the provincial government rather had also brought the same to the notice of the party chairman.

He said the petitioner had sent written complaints to the ACE but the latter, instead of taking action against the relevant people, asked the former to maintain silence on the issues.

Mr Khalil claimed that the ACE, in a bid to victimise the petitioner, issued the two impugned notices to him asking him to appear before the inquiry officer.

“Nothing was explained in those notices, which only said that they pertained to the allegations of illegal occupation or grabbing of government land,” he said.

The counsel argued that the offence mentioned in the notices did not fall in the jurisdiction of the ACE as the same was not an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

He pointed out that if the inquiry was about illegal occupation of a piece of land, then it was an offence under the Illegal Dispossession Act, and if it was about land grabbing, it was offence under the Pakistan Penal Code and that in both cases, the ACE was not authorised to carry out any inquiry.

Mr Khalil referred to different Supreme Court judgements to support his contention and requested the court to suspend the impugned notices until the final disposal of the petition.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2022

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