Illegal appointments cases: Lahore court sends Elahi on judicial remand

Published September 19, 2023
PTI President Parvez Elahi arrives at an anti-corruption court in Lahore on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI President Parvez Elahi arrives at an anti-corruption court in Lahore on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV

A Lahore court rejected the Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment’s (ACE) request for PTI President Parvez Elahi’s physical remand in two cases pertaining to illegal appointments on Tuesday and instead sent him on 14-day judicial remand.

Elahi is among several PTI leaders and workers who have been arrested amid the state’s crackdown on the PTI leadership following the violent riots in the country after Imran’s first arrest on May 9.

He has been arrested multiple times since June 1 in several cases, with the count of his arrests exceeding 12 since then, according to the tally provided by one of his lawyers.

His latest arrest was made yesterday by the Punjab ACE in a case involving the appointment of Muhammad Khan Bhatti as his principal secretary during his tenure as the chief minister. The ACE alleged that the appointment of Bhatti was not in accordance with the law.

Anti-corruption officials presented him before a district court today where judicial magistrate Imran Abid presided over the proceedings.

Elahi’s counsels, Amir Saeed and Rana Intizar, objected to the ACE’s request for their client’s remand.

Saeed, in particular, objected to the ACE lawyer’s contentions for the PTI leader’s physical remand.

“The prosecutor’s arguments do not pertain to the case in which they have come to seek his remand,” he contended.

At that, the ACE’s lawyer said they were seeking Elahi’s remand in two cases — one pertaining to Bhatti’s appointment and the other relating to alleged illegal appointments in the Punjab Assembly.

Elahi was initially arrested in the case of recruitments to the Punjab Assembly on June 3. The case pertained to illegal recruitments of 12 Grade-17 officers in the provincial assembly, with Elahi being accused of getting the results of the testing service changed to select the candidates of his choice.

Elahi’s lawyer, Intizar, told the court today that the Lahore High Court (LHC) had already approved the PTI leader’s protective bail in the case.

But the ACE’s lawyer contended that the case of illegal appointments to the assembly was “a big scandal” and Elahi’s remand was needed for interrogation.

“The record of recruitments has to be recovered. Billions of rupees taken by Parvez Elahi in bribes have to be recovered,” the lawyer said.

At one point, Elahi’s counsel Intizar argued that the LHC had barred authorities from arresting his client in any case. “Yet, he was arrested several times in violation of court orders.”

He further said Elahi was in the ACE’s custody when the first information report (FIR) of the alleged illegal appointments at the Punjab Assembly was registered against him.

“The FIR is based on mala fide. No inquiry was conducted before the case was registered,” he argued, urging the court to dismiss the ACE’s request for Elahi’s remand in both cases.

“Both the cases are based on mala fide. [Elahi] should be discharged in these cases,” he said, adding, “All of Parvez Elahi’s problems would be resolved if he holds a press conference today.”

The lawyer contended that Elahi was facing “false cases”.

After arguments by both sides, the court reserved its decision on the ACE’s request. It later dismissed the request and sent Elahi on 14-day judicial remand.

Following the court ruling, Elahi appealed to the court that he be sent to Adiala Jail. But ACE officials objected to it and said he should be kept at a prison in Lahore.

However, the judge directed the official to shift Elahi to Adiala Jail.

Timeline of arrests

After May 9, Elahi was first taken into custody on June 1 from outside his Lahore residence by the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE), Gujrat for allegedly taking kickbacks in development projects.

The next day, a Lahore court discharged him in the case but only for the ACE to re-arrest him in a case registered in the Gujranwala region. In this case, Elahi was accused of causing a Rs100 million loss to the national exchequer and receiving kickbacks during his time as the Punjab chief minister.

A day after his re-arrest, a Gujranwala court also discharged Elahi in two corruption cases, including the one in which he was detained on June 2. But freedom still eluded him as he was again re-arrested by anti-graft officials in a case pertaining to “illegal recruitments” in the Punjab Assembly.

While Elahi remained in custody, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) initiated another inquiry against him on June 9 over his alleged involvement in embezzlement in development projects in Gujrat and Mandi Bahauddin.

On June 12, a sessions court set aside a judicial magistrate’s decision of Elahi’s acquittal in the illegal appointments case. The Lahore High Court (LHC), however, suspended the lower court’s order a day later, and a judicial magistrate again sent him to judicial lockup.

The PTI leader finally secured relief from an anti-corruption court in Lahore on June 20 but could not be released from jail as orders for his release were not delivered to the prison administration.

The same day, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) booked him, his son Moonis Elahi and three others on charges of money laundering. Subsequently, the next day, the FIA took him into custody from jail and he was sent to jail on a 14-day judicial remand in the money laundering case.

On June 25, a special court in Lahore granted Elahi bail in the case, but he was again arrested by the FIA outside Camp Jail in connection with another money laundering case the very next day. In this case, the FIA alleged that Elahi handed over Rs50m to a woman via a frontman for money laundering.

Come July, a Lahore anti-terrorism court dismissed Elahi’s post-arrest bail plea as not maintainable in a case of attacking a police team that raided his house to arrest him in an inquiry by the ACE.

On July 14, the LHC restrained police and the ACE from arresting the former Punjab chief minister in any undisclosed case while hearing his plea seeking details of all cases registered against him.

And Lahore Banking Crimes Court issued Elahi’s release orders in the money laundering case on July 15 — a week after it allowed his post-arrest bail. But he was not set free as police said he was booked in a terror case. The said case was registered at Lahore’s Ghalib Market police station under terrorism provisions.

A day later, the Lahore deputy commissioner issued a 30-day detention order under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) for Elahi, resulting in his detention at the city’s Camp Jail.

Upon the completion of the MPO detention on Aug 14, the Lahore NAB team took Elahi into custody from the Adiala Jail — where he was taken on July 19, reportedly on administrative grounds — in yet another graft case. The NAB alleged Elahi received bribes/kickbacks in exchange for getting the “contracts of road schemes of Gujrat Highways Division awarded to favourite/hand-picked contractors”.

Fifteen days later, the LHC directed NAB to release him and barred authorities from arresting him in any case, but Islamabad police arrested him anyway. Police said he was held under 3-MPO on a magistrate’s orders. The order said Elahi should be detained for 15 days.

The detention order was suspended by the IHC on Sept 6 but Elahi was arrested yet again by the police the same day. The arrest was made in a case pertaining to clashes between Islamabad police and PTI workers outside the Judicial Complex on March 18.

On Sept 15, an Islamabad anti-terrorism court granted him bail in the riots case, but he was re-arrested by the ACE a day later in connection with a case pertaining to the Lahore Master Plan 2050.

The surety bonds for the bail were not submitted yet; hence, his client had not been released from the Adiala jail and subsequently taken into custody by the ACE, Elahi’s lawyer said.

On Sept 17, a Lahore anti-corruption court discharged him in the Lahore Master Plan 2050 case. But he was again arrested as the court allowed the Lahore ACE one-day transit remand Mr Elahi to take him back to Adiala Jail for his subsequent production before an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad in a case relating to the May 9 riots.

Yesterday, Elahi was re-arrested yet again — this time by the Punjab ACE in a case involving the appointment of Muhammad Khan Bhatti as his principal secretary.

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