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Land fraud case: Bahria Town plea rejected third time

July 17, 2012

RAWALPINDI, July 16: Bahria Town has once again failed to convince the Lahore High Court to stay the proceedings in a land fraud case against it in an anti-corruption court, in which property tycoon Malik Riaz and his son are also standing trial.

It was the third such attempt by Bahria Town lawyers in four weeks. In the past, Barrister Gohar Ali Khan and Zahid Hussain Bokhari had argued the case, but the LHC allowed the trial court to continue the proceedings in accordance with the law.

On Monday, when Justice Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah and Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi took up a fresh petition of Bahria Town, Dr Abdul Basit appeared for the company. He contended that the court had earlier passed the order in contradiction of the principles of law.

He said the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in November last year had ordered the transfer of the case from Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) to NAB but the former refused to hand over the record and filed the petition with the LHC.

He said it was a rare case in which a provincial anti-corruption organisation had approached the court against a federal counterpart. The LHC later issued the stay order till the final adjudication of the case and ordered the ACE to seal the relevant record, he added.

The ACE trial court then resumed hearing of the case during the summer vacation and issued warrants for the arrest of Malik Riaz, his son and other accused without keeping in mind that the matter had been stayed by the superior court, he maintained.

However, the court remarked that there was no restriction on it to take up the matter in any season. It also observed that the earlier orders of the LHC had been passed in accordance with the law.

Dr Basit contended that Bahria Town had also requested the LHC chief justice to transfer the case to any other court and their application was still pending at the principal seat in Lahore.

Prosecutor General Punjab Sadaqat Ali Khan, representing the ACE, told the court that a litigant cannot claim remedy in an already decided matter.

He said the Bahria Town management had filed the petition to stop the trial court proceedings under section 151 of Civil Procedure Code through Zahid Hussain Bokhari, which was rejected, and now Dr Basit has come with the same request and filed another petition under section 561-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure for getting the same relief.

He said the Bahria Town management every time filed different petition under different sections of the CPC or CrPC through different lawyers but with the only aim of securing the property tycoon and his son.

Mr Khan told Dawn that under section 151 of CPC, the court can give relief on any civil matter at any stage while section 561-A of CrPC gave discretion to the court to give relief to any accused facing criminal proceedings.

He said the Bahria Town management was trying to deceive the court which can initiate contempt proceedings against them.