PESHAWAR: After remaining behind bars for about 16 months over corruption charges, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa's (K-P) erstwhile provincial minister for mines and minerals Ziaullah Afridi was granted bail by the Peshawar High Court on Tuesday.
Afridi was arrested on July 9, 2015 for misappropriation of billions of rupees through illegal mining. The K-P Ehtesab Commission (KPEC) registered two other cases against him for illegal mining in Charsadda and Abbottabad. The cases alleged that the minister was involved in illegal mining in Nowshera district and making unlawful appointments and transfers in the department during his tenure.
The minister was granted bail against two surety bonds worth Rs1 million each on grounds that all co-accused in the case were granted bail, including DG Mines and Minerals Department Dr Liaquat Ali.
Ziaullah’s case sent to another bench
Dr Ali and Khalid Yousaf were granted bail in Chromite Tangi Mines case; Mir Zaman in appointment case and Khan Pervaiz in illegal mining case.
Afridi’s counsel Shumail Ahmad Butt argued before the bench headed by Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth that the petitioner was in prison for the last 16 months yet KPEC failed to file a reference against him. “Non-filing of the reference means the trial has not begun,” Butt contended.
The counsel argued that reference Tangi Chromites in Charsadda district of K-P case was also not filed. He pointed out delay in producing record before the court, saying the delay was not on part of the petitioner. “Almost all adjournments were requested by the prosecution while provision of the record and replies were also its responsibility,” he argued.
The counsel contended that after the 2nd Amendment in KPEC Act 2014, under its Section 42 a person charged for committing multiple offences should be prosecuted in one trial.
PHC urged to transfer Ziaullah’s case to top bench
The bench after hearing the arguments granted bail to the former provincial minister through a short order, and ordered him to submit two surety bonds of Rs1 million each.
Afridi was granted bail by the PHC on August 24, 2015 but KPEC objected there were multiple cases pending before the trial courts therefore he could not be released. The commission charged him for using his position to influence members of the mining committee in the renewal and assignment of chromites mines in Tangi tehsil of Charsadda district to Jalal Khattak, an alleged relative of CM Pervez Khattak.