KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) issued on Friday notices to respondents on a petition against the issuance of non-bailable warrants of arrest for Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Sharjeel Inam Memon and other co-accused in Rs5 billion corruption cases.
A two-judge bench, headed by SHC Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Sheikh, also called for comments from the accountability court concerned, the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) prosecutor and others by October 18.
The former minister along with the then provincial information secretary Zulfiqar Ali Shalwani, deputy directors Anita Baloch, Mansoor Ahmed Rajput and Mohammed Yousuf Kaboro and others were booked for allegedly committing corruption to the tune of Rs5 billion in awarding government advertisements to the electronic media between 2013 to 2015.
The national anti-graft watchdog had filed a reference against him in September last year, stating that investigations had revealed that an amount of Rs5,766,479,766 was paid to seven advertisement companies in violation of the Sindh Public Procurement Rules, 2010.
The bureau had maintained that Evernew Concepts (Pvt) Ltd was paid over Rs4.15 billion, Orient Communication over Rs320 million, Adarts Karachi over Rs317 million, Connect Marketing over Rs310 million, Value Added Marketing over Rs205 million, Xnine Communications over Rs374 million and Insync Advertisement was paid over Rs83 million.
Karachi’s Accountability Court-IV had in October 2016 issued non-bailable warrants for the arrest of Sharjeel, Baloch and the then section officer information Altaf Hussain Memon.
Advocate Farooq H Naek alleged that the attitude towards the accused in Punjab and Sindh provinces was different. In Punjab summons are issued to the accused but in Sindh arrest warrants are being issued. This is a double standard, the lawyer added.
He argued that the arrest warrants were issued when the petitioner was abroad and his name was also put on the Exit Control List, adding that Sharjeel had approached the court against the bar on his travel.
Naek argued that the accountability court had no authority to issue non-bailable warrants against any accused.
Therefore, the court was pleaded to suspend the operation of the accountability court’s non-bailable warrants to enable the petitioner surrender before the court to join the trial proceedings.
The bench issued notices to the accountability court concerned, the NAB prosecutor and others to file their comments in this regard by October 18.
The same bench, meanwhile, also issued notices on petition of Iqbal Z Ahmed, a former chief executive officer of the Jamshoro Joint Venture Limited (JJVL) in a Rs17 billion corruption reference.
He had been named co-accused with the former petroleum adviser, Dr Asim Hussain, a close aide of former president Asif Ali Zardari, along with the managing director of Sui Southern Gas Company, Khalid Rehman, as well as former senior officials of the gas utility and the Oil and Gas Development Company, in the reference of misusing authority to fraudulently award contracts of five gas fields to JJVL.