NAB directed to get CNICs of accused employing delaying tactics blocked

SHC cancels bail of accused for not appearing in court

Our Correspondent October 05, 2017

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed on Wednesday the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to get the computerised national identity cards (CNICs) blocked of the accused who, by not cooperating with the investigators, were causing delays in inquiries into graft scams.

Headed by SHC Chief Justice (CJ) Ahmed Ali M Sheikh, a two-judge bench also cancelled the pre-arrest bail of a co-accused with the former land utilisation secretary in a case concerning illegal land allotment.

The judges were hearing bail applications filed by the former land utilisation secretary, Ghulam Mustafa Phul, and the co-accused, Muhammad Naeem, who had obtained pre-arrest bail to avoid arrest by the national anti-graft watchdog.

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Phul, who is currently serving as the secretary of the cooperative department, had informed the court that NAB had initiated an inquiry against him regarding the illegal allotment of land. According to the bureau, the petitioner, while serving as the land utilisation secretary, was involved in illegal land allotment.

The lawyer representing the petitioner contended that the NAB officials were harassing his client, who had nothing to do with the land allotments as alleged by the bureau. Phul apprehended that NAB may arrest him in connection with the case. Therefore, he pleaded to the court to grant him pre-arrest bail and also restrain NAB from harassing him.

On Wednesday, the bench members came down hard on the NAB special prosecutor for failing to submit a report on the progress in the inquiry against the accused. The prosecutor informed the court that four different inquiries were pending against Phul and Naeem. He claimed that the accused persons were involved in illegally issuing leases of 265 acres of land and 276 plots, each measuring 400 square yards, in the Malir neighbourhood of Karachi.

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Upon the SHC CJ's inquiry about the total worth of the illegally leased land, the prosecutor replied that the land was of worth billions of rupees but the investigation was still under way. He requested the court to grant more time to submit a report containing necessary information about the case.

Displeased with the reply, the SHC CJ remarked that the delay on the part of NAB in the completion of the investigation raised questions. The bench gave 45 days to the prosecutor to complete the investigation and submit the progress report. Meanwhile, the SHC directed the NAB authorities to get the CNICs of the accused blocked through the National Database and Registration Authority if they were not cooperating in the investigation.

In the meantime, the bench also cancelled interim pre-arrest bail granted to Naeem for his failure to appear before the court.

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