Court acquits Nawaz in plot allotment case from 1980s

Published June 25, 2023
In this file photo from April, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif addresses a press conference in London. — DawnNewsTV/File
In this file photo from April, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif addresses a press conference in London. — DawnNewsTV/File

LAHORE: An accountability court on Saturday acquitted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a reference about alleged illegal allotment of plots in 1986 to the owner of a media house.

Judge Rao Abdul Jabbar passed the order on applications filed by Yousaf Abbas, a nephew of Mr Sha­rif, and others challenging the auction of the properties supposedly owned by Nawaz Sharif. They claimed ownership of the assets ordered to be auctioned by the court after the former premier was declared a proclaimed offender for his constant absence in the trial proceedings.

The applicants who obj­e­cted to the auction said the assets had been transfer­red to them being lawful legal heirs of the owners.

Their counsel Qazi Misbahul Hassan argued before the court that the principal accused (the media owner) and two former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) officers had already been acquitted in the reference of 37-year-old ‘illegal’ land allotment. He said the acquittal of the principal accused proved that no offence was committed.

Therefore, he argued that keeping the proceedings pending against any other accused including a proclaimed offender after the acquittal of the prime accused would be of no use.

The judge admitted the arguments of the counsel and acquitted Nawaz Sharif in the reference.

The trial court had acquitted a media house owner, former director general of LDA Humayon Faiz Rasool and its former director of land development department Mian Bashir Ahmad on Jan 31, 2022.

The NAB had alleged that the media owner illegally obtained exemption of 54 plots, each measuring one kanal, situated in Johar Town’s Block-H. It said the land had been allotted in connivance with then chief minister Nawaz Sharif against the exemption policy and the laws for monetary gains. It alleged the accused caused a loss of Rs143.53 million to the national exchequer through the allotment in violation of exemption policy.

Acquitting the principal accused, the court in its decision observed that the media owner got plots in 1986 and the LDA, as per the prosecution, pronounced a policy of requiring payment of excess plots at the market price in 1990. The court ruled that the policy had no retrospective effect and was applicable for future cases.

The court concluded that no loss was caused to the LDA from any act of the accused or his co-accused persons as the prosecution admitted that the reserved price was paid in time.

UAE tour

Meanwhile, PML-N chief organiser Maryam Nawaz reached Dubai to spend Eid with her father and party’s supreme leader Nawaz Sharif who landed there from the UK.

A party huddle on issues ranging from elections to caretaker setup and his (Nawaz) return is expected to be held during their stay in the UAE, as a PML-N insider told Dawn that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and some senior party leaders were also expected to reach the UAE to attend the party meeting on the issue of holding elections and the caretaker set-up after the completion of the coalition government term on August 13.

“The other important agenda of the huddle will be the return of the elder Sharif to Pakistan ahead of polls and steps being taken to secure court relief in the cases he is convicted of,” he said.

Mr Sharif may also visit Saudi Arabia en route to London.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb did not respond to Dawn’s query regarding the party meeting details in Dubai, though she tweeted that Maryam Nawaz left for Dubai (from Lahore) on a private visit. “Nawaz Sharif is already in Dubai along with the other family members,” she wrote.

Currently, he said, names of those close to the establishment were doing the rounds for being favourite candidates for the caretaker premier.

Zulqernain Tahir also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2023

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