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Tycoon case boomerangs

August 07, 2012

RAWALPINDI, Aug 6: Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi bench on Monday issued a notice to the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Punjab on a petition filed by the chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The notice restrains the Anti-Corruption Court (ACC) from proceeding in the land fraud case in which property tycoon Malik Riaz and his son Ali Riaz are allegedly involved.

A division bench of LHC Justice Syed Najamul Hassan and Justice Khawaja Imtiaz Ahmed took up the petition.

NAB special prosecutor barrister Saeed Khan told the court that ACE registered two separate FIRs of 1,401 kanal land fraud case against 16 persons in November 2009, on complaint of a private person and on a source report of an ACE informer.

He said the case was under trial in the ACC on the basis of an incomplete challan submitted by the ACE before the court, when November last year chairman NAB under section 16 of the NAB ordinance transferred the case from ACC to NAB courts.

ACE instead of transferring the case to the NAB and handing over the relevant record to the NAB officials challenged the transfer of the case in LHC and the court on December 26, 2011 and restrained both the investigation agencies —NAB and ACE (Punjab) — from proceeding into the said case, he added.

He pointed out that as the trial in the said land fraud case was at an initial stage, and if the case is transferred to the accountability court at this very stage, there would be no need of any fresh trial, adding that the chairman NAB has also submitted an application to the ACC requesting that in the interest of justice the case should be transferred to the accountability court or as an alternative, the proceeding should be stayed. ACC, however, rejected the NAB’s plea on July 17, 2012, he maintained.

He requested the court to declare illegal and unlawful all the proceedings initiated in the case by the anti-corruption judge and to restrain him from proceeding into the matter till the final adjudication of the petition.

He further prayed the court to set aside the trial court order of July 17, in which he dismissed NAB petitions for transfer of the said land fraud case.

Prosecutor general Punjab, Sadaqat Ali Khan, representing ACE told the court that NAB filed the appeal to rescue Malik Riaz in the fraud case, adding that the NAB petition was part of the coordinated efforts of Bahria Town to save their boss from the arrest.

According to him, after the trial court resumed proceeding of the said land fraud case on June 26 and subsequently issued the arrest warrants for Malik Riaz and his son Ali Riaz, the tycoon and his employees filed at least three petitions before the same court seeking relief, which was not entertained.

He said the NAB petition was also not different from those filed by the employees of Bahria Town as it also sought the same relief what they were seeking in their petitions.

If the NAB petition was not aimed at rescuing the tycoon then why the entire senior staff of Malik Riaz as well as lawyer of Bahria Town is present in the courtroom to witness the proceedings, Advocate Khan added.

The court, however, admitted the petition for hearing and after issuing notice to the ACE adjourned the hearing for a week.