SHC reproaches NAB for failing to arrest Babar Ghauri

Court extends pre-arrest bail to former KPT chairperson

Our Correspondent March 09, 2018
MQM leader Babar Ghauri. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) expressed on Thursday its displeasure over the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) failure to arrest former federal ports and shipping minister Babar Khan Ghauri, a leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), for his alleged involvement in massive illegal appointments in the Karachi Port Trust (KPT).

Heading a two-judge bench, SHC Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Shaikh reprimanded the federal anti-graft watchdog's prosecutor for taking action against junior level employees of the ports ministry but failing to make any major progress in the case.

The bench was hearing petitions seeking extension in pre-arrest bail for former KPT chairperson Rauf Akhtar Farooqui and others who had approached the court to avoid arrest by NAB.

During Thursday's proceedings, the SHC CJ asked the NAB prosecutor to explain what action had been taken against those working on senior posts, including Ghauri.

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The prosecutor informed the court that Ghauri had been nominated as an accused in a reference relating to massive appointments made against merits during his tenure as minister. "If [Ghauri] has been nominated as an accused, what action was taken for his arrest?" Justice Shaikh asked, to which the prosecutor replied that NAB had arrested clerks and those acting as their front-men, however, no minister or secretary was arrested.

The investigation officer (IO) informed the SHC that the former minister was out of the country, due to which it was not easy to act against him. However, the IO maintained that a summary had been sent to the NAB chairperson, seeking his approval to file a reference against the accused. The chairperson's decision on the summary is awaited, the judges were informed.

Meanwhile, a lawyer representing the former KPT chairperson argued that the petitioner had approached the court to seek pre-arrest bail as the NAB authorities had issued him a call-up notice to appear for questioning in connection with the alleged massive illegal appointments in the ports and shipping ministry. The lawyer said Farooqui apprehended his arrest in connection with the alleged offence that he had no role in.

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The NAB prosecutor contended that Farooqui was appointed against the post of the KPT general manager on the recommendation of then federal minister Ghauri.

The bench asked the prosecutor to submit a progress report about the summary for filing reference against the former minister and other accused persons by the next date. In the meantime, it extended the pre-arrest bail granted to Farooqui and others in the case.


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