A Special Banking Offences Court in Lahore has indicted Punjab Assembly member and PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi for accepting kickbacks in the National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) land scam.
Justice Abdul Rasheed framed the charges against the MPA and directed the prosecution to present eight prosecution witnesses who retracted their statements on the next date of hearing. According to the initial Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) investigation report, 29 witnesses recorded their statements in the NICL land scam.
Eight prosecution witnesses denied giving any statement to the FIA during the course of investigation when presented before a magistrate.
Elahi, who is on judicial remand, was produced before the judge by the FIA. Defence lawyers Amjad Parvez, Rai Basir Ahmad and Misbahur Rehman cited precedents set by superior courts on the provision of statements recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code to the defence.
The lawyers tried to convince the judge that it was in the court’s purview to show the case record. Justice Rasheed stated they had failed to establish that the court is bound to provide witness statements against the defendant.
Elahi’s lawyer, not willing to give up without a fight, argued that the judge had no intention of understanding the case and had prematurely decided against providing a copy of the statements. The counsels maintain that the defence has the right to access witness statements in pursuance of Section 241A.
The court’s atmosphere became charged after Rai Basheer quoted a Hadith, which forewarns that judges are of three types, two of whom will go to Hell. The counsels asked the judge to bear in mind that the case against Elahi will go down in history. They contended that the present conduct of the court could influence Elahi’s views about the judiciary’s independence.
The FIA traced two fake accounts opened by Elahi’s manager Abdul Malik to deposit his share of the money embezzled in the land deals. Malik had stated he opened the accounts to enable Elahi to receive his share from the transactions, but he later retracted his statement.
The FIA lodged two FIRs against Moonis Elahi, alleging that his manger opened the accounts in Allied Bank Limited New Airport and Dubai Islamic Bank Main Boulevard branch on his instructions and that he was the end beneficiary.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2011.