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Cases against tycoon keep coming

August 14, 2012

RAWALPINDI, Aug 13: Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi bench on Monday turned down the request of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for restraining the Anti-Corruption Court (ACC) from proceeding in the land fraud case, in which property tycoon Malik Riaz and his son Ali Riaz are also allegedly involved.

LHC division bench comprising Justice Khawaja Imtiaz Ahmed and Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi resumed hearing of the NAB petition seeking transfer of land fraud case from the ACC to Accountability Court (AC).

The court after hearing the preliminary arguments of NAB additional deputy prosecutor general (ADPG) Saeedur Rehman asked him to tell the court as to how NAB was an aggrieved party into this particular case. The court also advised the NAB prosecutor not to be emotional while arguing the case.

Sadaqat Ali Khan, prosecutor general Punjab appeared on behalf of Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) and alleged that NAB is trying to rescue the property tycoon in the scam and filed a petition in the LHC for the transfer of the case.

He said the arrest warrants of Malik Riaz issued by the ACC would be reactivated with effect from August 16, after the expiry of protective/transitory bail of the tycoon, which he obtained from the Sindh High Court (SHC).

This is the reason behind their haste because they wanted to stay the proceedings against Malik Riaz and his son Ali Riaz as the ACC after issuance of their arrest warrants also directed for the attachment of the properties of the tycoon, his son as well as seven others —Melad Bibi, alias Hammad Bibi, Sheikh Sajidur Rehman, Iftikhar Munshi, Iqbal Hussain Shah, Mohammad Ashfaq, Dildar Hussain and Nisarul Haq — for their alleged involvement in the 1,401 kanal land fraud case.

Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan representing Malik Riaz told the court that since NAB also made his client as respondent, therefore, the court should hear their point of view as well.

He said the LHC has issued a restraining order in an identical matter regarding the jurisdiction of NAB and ACE in the same land fraud case in which it restrained both the federal as well as the provincial anti-corruption establishments from proceeding against the tycoon.

If ACE would proceed against the tycoon even after August 16, it would tantamount to the contempt of court and I reserve the right to file a contempt petition against ACE in this regard, he added. Further proceeding of the case has been adjourned till August 27.

In the petition, NAB alleged that ACC judge proceedings in the land fraud case were illegal.

NAB in November 2011, directed the ACE to transfer the said case to NAB and also filed an application to the anti-corruption court in this regard, the petition said and added the ACE instead of transferring the relevant record challenged the NAB letters in the LHC and subsequently, the court restrained both ACE and NAB from taking any action in this manner and sealed the record.

The petition said that NAB on a complaint of Col (retired) Saeed Akhtar a general manager of Bahria Town considered the matter and the NAB authorities under the proper procedure wrote to ACE for the transfer of the case.

Meanwhile, the same court also took up another case regarding the merger of 2,880 kanal of land of Revenue Employees Cooperative Housing Society (RECHS) with Bahria Town.

The court accepted the petitions of the people affected by the RECHS land merger.

Assistant advocate general Punjab, Rashid Hafeez told the court that because of a restraining order issued by the LHC division bench, the ACE could not start the investigation against the government officials who were involved in the said deal.

He said the Bahria Town is a private company but because of a stay order obtained from the court, the ACE could not proceed against the corrupt officials.

Zahid Husain Bokhari, the tycoon’s counsel told the court that the matter is being settled between the management of Bahria Town and the RECHS affected.

He asserted that RECHS was a dead housing society and its merger with Bahria Town after its members in 2005 passed a resolution to support the merger, adding that the then Chief Minister Punjab also approved the said merger.