Rental power project case: NAB arrests son of former AJK president

IHC dismisses Raja Babar Ali Zulqarnain’s pre-arrest bail plea

Rizwan Shehzad January 22, 2016
IHC dismisses Raja Babar Ali Zulqarnain’s pre-arrest bail plea. PHOTO: National Accountability Bureau

ISLAMABAD: Former Azad Jammu & Kashmir president’s son Raja Babar Ali Zulqarnain was arrested on Thursday from the premises of the Islamabad High Court following the dismissal of his bail application in the rental power project case.

A division bench comprising Justices Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and Mohsin Akhtar Kayani dismissed his pre-arrest bail application as well as another petition that sought restraining the National Accountability Bureau from ‘harassing and humiliating’ him by issuing call-up notices. Following the dismissal, NAB officials took him in custody from the IHC.

According to the anti-graft body, Zulqarnain, who is also an elected member of the AJK Legislative Assembly, made the contractual arrangement between the federal government and the company for electricity supply through ship-mounted power facility.

He was appointed to act as a local representative for the Karkey Karadeniz Elektrik Uretim — a Turkish company which set up a power plant onboard a ship berthed at the Karachi port — to provide electricity to the national grid and logistical support to the visiting representatives of the company.

When NAB launched a probe into the rental power projects on allegations of corruption and misuse of authority, Zulqarnain and 27 others were investigated, following which the anti-graft body submitted a reference in an accountability court.

NAB had directed Zulqarnain to provide details of remuneration and any other payments from the company into his bank account, record of taxes paid on payments received, employment contract with the company, and details of meeting held with government officials on behalf of the company.

In one petition, Zulqarnain’s counsel Asim Hafeez said his client had incurred expenses on behalf of the company for meeting local expenses and establishment of a local office, and the same were reimbursed.

No decision-making role or responsibility was assigned to the petitioner and he did not participate in the decision making process, he added. “The petitioner simply acted as a liaison officer.”

In response to over a dozen notices, the counsel said, Zulqarnain not only appeared before the investigation officer of NAB every time but reiterated the information already provided and re-submitted the documents in the case.

Hafeez alleged that NAB coerced Zulqarnain to become a friend of the prosecution, which was an unacceptable condition for him, adding that he, however, intended to contest the reference on merit.

When the case was taken up on Thursday, NAB Additional Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi said Zulqarnain was using delaying tactics and abusing the process of law.

Instead of joining the investigation, Abbasi claimed that Zulqarnain remained an absconder for more than two years in the case and was not entitled to any relief now.

Following the arguments, the court dismissed both his applications. Subsequently, he was arrested from outside of the courtroom.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd,  2016.



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