RAHIM YAR KHAN: An Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) team on Monday produced Muhammad Khan Bhatti, former principal secretary to ex-chief minister Parvez Elahi, before the court of senior civil judge and sought his physical remand.

According to first information report, Bhatti had invested Rs250 million allegedly earned through unfair means in the Rahim Yar Khan Sugar Mills and also got its partnership. It said being a government employee he could not run a business but he used his official influence to get partnership in the sugar mills. “The government officers and employees cannot legally be a part of any business,” the ACE says.

The mill is owned by former PTI minister Khusro Bakhtia and his brothers.

The ACE sought his physical remand while counsel for Bhatti Manzoor Warriach requested that as his client was in police custody for a month and he was allegedly tortured, his medical examination must be conducted.

Senior Civil Judge Muhammad Tasneem Ijaz granted his three-day physical remand with direction to the ACE to conduct his medical examination.

Bhatti was brought to Punjab from Balochistan on a transit remand with the permission of the Home Department on Monday.His counsel told Dawn that Bhatti was picked up immediately after the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly a month back. Bhatti filed a writ petition for his protective bail with the Sindh High Court but he was picked up from Matari and for 28 days he was kept at some unknown location.

The counsel said Bhatti’s heirs filed a writ petition with the Lahore High Court and later with the Supreme Court but law-enforcement agencies told the courts that the former secretary was not in their custody.

“When another plea for protective bail was filed with the LHC on March 3 and the court sought his production at any cost on March 6, the ACE aired a news that Bhatti had been arrested from Balochistan on his way to Iran.”

He said an FIR was registered in Saryab police station of Quetta under section 324 and a separate FIR was also registered under the Balochistan Arms Licence Ordinance. Later, after getting transit remand, the ACE brought Bhatti to Rahim Yar Khan where his medical treatment was conducted ‘secretly’.

Warriach said his medical examination would be completed today (Tuesday) and the next hearing would be on March 9.

Bhatti’s face was covered with a black cloth when he was brought to the RYK ACE circle office. A number of his relatives and friends who had gathered there chanted slogans.

According to some sources, DG ACE Sohail Zafar Chattha especially came to RYK to monitor this case and some more arrests related to the case are being expected.

The ACE said Mr Bhatti was also wanted in a case registered by ACE’s Lahore region.

Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2023

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