KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) turned down on Monday a request by the former provincial secretary for the local government department, Ali Ahmed Lund, to allow him to settle a Rs380 million corruption case with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) by voluntarily returning Rs180 million.
"Since the Supreme Court (SC) had made its observations regarding the plea bargain, therefore, how can the high court allow the same?," questioned SHC Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Sheikh, while dismissing the ex-secretary's application for bail in a case relating to corruption and accumulation of assets beyond known means of income.
Lund faces allegations of accumulating assets and properties worth Rs380 million beyond his known means of income. The court had revoked the protective pre-arrest bail granted to the former bureaucrat in May 2016 following his indictment by the accountability court in a corruption case. He was reportedly sacked in 2013 following controversy regarding appointment of 12,900 employees in the local government department.
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On Monday, the petitioner's lawyer, Barrister Farogh Naseem, informed the judges that his client was willing to return Rs180 million voluntarily to NAB under the plea bargain, as it was permissible in the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.
CJ Sheikh told the lawyer that since the SC had already given its observations regarding the plea bargain in a case questioning the legality of such provision in the law, therefore, the high court could not allow such practice.
Barrister Naseem said if NAB had objections to the value of the petitioner's assets, then his client was willing to return the amount and requested that the petitioner may be granted bail.
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The bench members remarked that the whole game was about the money, adding that first people plunder public money and once they are caught their conscience awakens all of a sudden.
Opposing the bail, NAB's Special Prosecutor Altaf Hussain contended that the accused had received Rs99,64,747 in the head of monthly salary from 1984 till 2014. He said the accused earned around Rs257,00,000 from other sources such as a petrol pump and agriculture etc. But, the value of the assets of the ex-secretary was Rs380 million, which was much more than his legitimate sources of income, he contended, pleading to the court to dismiss the bail plea.
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The bench turned down the request for allowing the plea bargain and rejected the bail application through a short order. The detailed judgment will be released later.