LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday allowed a petition of former federal minister Chaudhry Moonis Elahi and quashed a money laundering case lodged against him by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

Earlier, deputy attorney general Asad Ali Bajwa told the court that the FIA filed its challan (investigation report) comprising thousands of pages before the trial court.

Advocate Amjad Pervez, the petitioner’s counsel, said that he had brought citations of 14 judgments of different courts to support his arguments as he already learned about the challan from the media.

Justice Asjad Javed Ghural asked the deputy law officer whether a case of banking offence could be registered without a complaint being filed by the bank concerned.

The case was lodged against former federal minister by FIA

The law officer said how a bank, that itself was guilty of the offence, could lodge a complaint.

To another query of the court, he said the federal cabinet had approved the inquiry against the petitioner in light of the report of a sugar inquiry commission.

The judge asked the law officer whether a case against Jahangir Khan Tareen, an estranged leader of the PTI, was also registered in light of the commission’s report.

Advocate Pervez intervened and said the FIA did not file its challan against Mr Tareen in the case which had been registered before the case of Mr Elahi.

The law officer said the FIA was following its action matrix to deal with the cases. He also questioned the maintainability of the petition before a single bench. He said a petition of the FIA against the pre-arrest bail of Mr Elahi was already fixed for hearing on Tuesday.

However, the judge did not entertain the objection on the jurisdiction of the single bench to hear the petition.

The investigating officer of the agency stated that the petitioner committed sale and purchase of the Rahim Yar Sugar Mills through fake bank accounts. He said the shares were finally transferred in the name of Mr Elahi’s wife and other members of his family.

The IO, however, failed to satisfy the court as to how a banking offence was made out against the petitioner if no loss to national kitty was established.

After hearing the two sides, the judge reserved his verdict, which he announced after a while and allowed the petition.

Mr Elahi had contended that the impugned case and the proceedings before the FIA were a result of mala fide intention, and considerations extraneous to law.

He alleged that the impugned proceedings had been initiated to harass and blackmail him and his family to muffle their voice against the coalition government in the Centre. He stated none of the suspects nominated in the FIR had been a public servant in the service of the federal government or any corporation under the control of the Centre. He further said the FIR had been registered in pursuance of the sugar commission inquiry without issuing any summon or notice to him, which showed clear mala fide and violation of the statutory laws.

A special court had confirmed the pre-arrest bail of Mr Elahi and other suspects, including the Punjab Assembly’s then secretary Muham­mad Khan Bhatti and Wajid Bhatti in the case.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2022

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