Fate of corruption cases in Sindh hangs in the balance

Published: July 6, 2017
Sindh High Court. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Sindh High Court. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: The fate of cases arising out of the multi-billion rupee corruption inquiries initiated against politicians, bureaucrats and other people in positions of power by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) now hangs in the balance, as the Sindh High Court (SHC) stopped hearing such cases till final outcome of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government’s decision to repeal the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 in Sindh.

A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Muhammad Farooq Shah, put off hearings of different petitions filed by accused nominated in corruption inquiries, including one relating to the Rs460 billion corruption reference against Dr Asim Hussain and other co-accused.

The judges had taken up a bail plea filed by Syed Athar Hussain, a former Karachi Development Authority director, who had moved the court to seek bail in a corruption reference pending before the concerned accountability court.

Justice Shah observed that the Sindh government had repealed the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 in the province. He further observed that cases challenging the ordinance would not be taken up until after the final outcome of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 Sindh Repeal Bill, 2017.

The bench directed the lawyers representing the government and the petitioner to inform the court on fate of the bill on July 29.

Opposition parties to challenge ordinance repeal in court

The bench also adjourned hearings on different cases, including those filed by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s former director of payroll, Raziur Rehman, and Mirza Muhammad Ehsan against the inquiry into the alleged misappropriation of funds meant for the salaries of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation employees.

NAB law repealed

The PPP-led provincial government passed a bill to scrap the federal anti-graft law, which it had long been accusing Islamabad of using to victimise its leadership and officers in Sindh.

The PPP leadership had come forward to openly oppose and resist NAB from operating in province after Dr Asim Hussain, the former petroleum adviser and a close aide of the former president Asif Ali Zardari, was taken into custody and two separate corruption references were later filed against him by NAB.

National Accountability Ordinance repealed by Sindh Assembly

The first reference, in which Syed Athar Hussain was named co-accused with Dr Asim, pertained to corruption of Rs460 billion in an alleged scam in which gas was illegally curtailed to the agriculture sector to benefit a particular group associated with the fertiliser industry.

NAB contends that the price of fertiliser was arbitrarily inflated and Dr Asim received kickbacks in return.

The reference, which was filed on February 25, 2016, accused Dr Asim of being involved in a land scam, public fraud and money laundering. The overall amount involved in this investigation is Rs462.5 billion.

Former petroleum and natural resources secretary Ejaz Chaudhry, former Karachi Docks Labour Board CEO Safdar Hussain, former Karachi Development Authority directors Syed Athar Hussain and Masood Haider Jaffery, and Ziauddin group finance director Abdul Hameed have also been named as co-accused.

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