Corruption case: IHC dismisses bail application of CDA officials, Safa Gold Mall owner

IHC says petitioners failed to perform duty of protecting the assets of the state

Rizwan Shehzad March 04, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Corruption is like cancer. Corruption is now termed as "Royal Thievery". It not only affects an individual but economy and destroys culture.

While agreeing to the above mentioned observations of a superior court, the Islamabad High Court has dismissed petitions seeking post-arrest bail of the Capital Development Authority (CDA)'s officials and the owner of Safa Gold Mall, on charges of causing loss of Rs1.07 billion to the public exchequer.

IHC's Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani dismissed bail applications of the CDA officials — former Building Control Deputy Director General Ghulam Murtaza Malik, Director Architecture Khalil Ahmed, Deputy Director Building Control Section Ammar Idrees and the Safa Gold owner Rana Abdul Qayyum.

All four petitioners were arrested on November 20, 2017, by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) having a major role with the approval of illegal constructions of Safa Gold Mall and violation of CDA by-laws. The court dismissed bail pleas on Feb 26 and the detailed judgment emerged on Saturday.

"CDA officials and petitioners have not performed their duties in accordance with minimum required standards to protect the assets of the State, which remained as sacred trust under their command and control, and the same amounts to corruption and corrupt practices," the judgment read.

The judgment revealed that Qayyum is the "main beneficiary of entire construction wherein extra floors have been constructed which were saleable" and he received illegal benefits on the strength of all actions which were not warranted under the law.

The court noted that all approvals regarding construction of extra floors beyond design parameters have been achieved by Qayyum through illegal methods in connivance with CDA officials, who are facilitators and who have misused their authority for illegal construction beyond 4th floor without due approval of competent authority.

Subsequently, the court dismissed post-arrest bail in the case pertaining to the construction of illegal storeys in the mall.

The bench said that the apex court has imposed a special duty upon the courts in cases of corruption and expects that the courts would perform their duties actively and diligently to eliminate corruption and corrupt practices.

In the judgment, while referring to another judgment, the bench said that the "crime of corruption is to be considered as one of the serious problems and threats posed to stability and security of societies, undermining the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice and jeopardising sustainable development and rule of law."

NAB took action after the CDA board decided to cancel the plot allotted to the mall, due to the construction of three illegal storeys and other building plan violations. The CDA had auctioned plot no.5 in Jinnah Super Marker in 2010.

The allotment letter stated that the floor area ratio of the building would be 1:5, with 100pc coverage, and the number of storeys would be ground plus four – capping the height of the building. The suspects are currently being held in Adiala jail and had applied for post-arrest bail.

CDA legal adviser Kashif Ali Malik and NAB’s prosecutor Imran Shafique had opposed post-arrest bail for the suspects.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2018.