LAHORE: A judicial magistrate on Wednesday discharged Muhammad Khan Bhatti, former secretary of the Punjab Assembly, in a case of his alleged illegal appointment as principal secretary to the chief minister.

A team of the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) presented Bhatti before the magistrate to seek his physical remand in the case.

The investigating officer (IO) told the court that the suspect had been appointed as the principal secretary to the chief minister in violation of rules, merits and without having requisite qualification.

He said the appointment of the suspect was a result of political consideration.

The IO asked the court magistrate to hand over the custody of the suspect for 14 days to hold investigation in the case.

Opposing the remand, a counsel for the suspect argued that the ACE lodged the case purely on political grounds. He said Bhatti had no link to any corruption or illegal act. He asked the court to turn down the remand request and discharge the suspect in the ‘fabricated’ FIR.

After hearing both sides, Magistrate Imran Abid discharged Bhatti in the case and the ACE shifted him back to jail.

Bhatti is on judicial remand in several other cases of alleged corruption including embezzlement in the allowances of the assembly during his stint as the assembly’s secretary and receiving kickbacks in appointments made in the assembly and against the transfers of the government servants.

Bhatti, who is believed to be a confidant of former chief minister Parvez Elahi, also faces cases of alleged corruption lodged by the NAB and the FIA.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2023

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