RAWALPINDI, Aug 4: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has filed a petition in the Lahore High Court (LHC) to stop an anti-corruption court (ACC) from proceeding against property magnate Malik Riaz in a land fraud case.
On July 30, the ACC had attached properties of Malik Riaz, his son Ali Riaz, Milad Bibi alias Hammad Bibi, Sheikh Sajidur Rehman, Iftikhar Munshi, Iqbal Hussain Shah, Mohammad Ashfaq, Dildar Hussain and Nisarul for their alleged involvement in the 1,401-kanal land fraud case.
The court, however, temporarily suspended its order the next day till Aug 15 after Malik Riaz’s counsel produced certified copies of the SHC order granting protective/transitory bail to his client.
The NAB petition, filed by its prosecutor general K.K. Agha and deputy prosecutor general Chaudhry Riaz, has accused the Anti-corruption Cstablishment (ACE) of faulty investigation, terming its actions unlawful.
The petition said the anti-corruption judge issued notices and arrest warrants for procuring the attendance of the accused in violation of the mandatory provision of Section 16-A of the NAB Ordinance.
The petition the bureau had directed the ACE in November last year to transfer the case to the NAB and filed an application to the ACC in this regard.
Instead of transferring the relevant record, the ACE challenged the NAB letters in the LHC and subsequently, the court restrained both the ACE and NAB from taking any action and sealed the record the petition said.
In the petition, the NAB expressed apprehension that the “ACE has yet to file a final challan which speaks volumes of their mala fide conduct, tainted actions, which are detrimental to the basic spirit of criminal law”.
According to the petition, the first investigation into the land scam was conducted by ACE’s assistant director Masud Ahmed Janjua, who recommended on Oct 5, 2010, judicial action only against four accused – Rizwan Patwari, Mohammad Ishfaq, Tanveer Ahmed and Hammad Bibi.
The second inquiry, the petition said, was conducted by ACE’s assistant director Liaqat Ali Khan on the directions of the LHC.
On Jan 1 last year, Mr Khan recommended judicial action against another 11 accused, including Malik Riaz, Ali Riaz and Col (retd) Akhtar Saeed, general manager of Bahria Town.
Another investigation was done by ACE’s deputy director Mohammad Ibrahim Junaid, who exonerated on March 15 last year Malik Riaz, Ali Riaz, Col (retd) Saeed Akhtar and eight others in the case.
In the final investigation, however, a joint investigation team of the ACE comprising director Mohammad Khan Ranjha, deputy directors Saqib Majeed and Ibrahim Junaid and inspector Amjad Shahzad again found Malik Riaz, Ali Riaz and 16 others guilty.
The petition said that in the meantime, Col (retd) Saeed Akhtar filed a complaint with the NAB accusing officials of ACE of wrongly involving him in the case and alleged a huge amount of corruption was involved and requested for the transfer of the case to an accountability court. Then the NAB authorities wrote to the ACE for the transfer of the case, it added.
The petition requested the court to declare all proceedings by the anti-corruption judge illegal and restrain him from hearing the case till its final adjudication.
When contacted, Punjab’s prosecutor general Sadaqat Ali Khan said the NAB wanted to rescue Malik Riaz in the case after the property tycoon had exhausted all his resources and failed to get relief.
He said the Bahria Town management had earlier approached the LHC four times seeking the same relief, but their request was not entertained.
He said the NAB had filed the petition in the LHC when the ACC had initiated the process to confiscate property of Malik Riaz and his son. He alleged that the NAB chairman had transferred the case last year because he wanted to acquit the tycoon in a friendly prosecution.
But NAB’s deputy prosecutor general Chaudhry Riaz told Dawn that the NAB did not approach the LHC with the intention to rescue any particular personality. “We are keen to bring the things in a system and, therefore, wanted transfer of the case to NAB courts.”