KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) sought on Friday replies from the federal government, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other parties over the plea filed by Sindh Home Secretary Abdul Kabir Kazi against the inclusion of his name in the Exit Control List (ECL), in relation to a corruption case.
The counsel for Kazi, Barrister Faizan Memon, told a two-member bench comprising SHC Chief Justice (CJ) Ahmed Ali Sheikh and Justice Omar Sial that the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) inquiry had been discontinued and therefore the names should be removed from the ECL. He said that the inquiry began in 2013 by imposing corruption allegations and even after five years, the inquiry hasn’t been completed. He added that Kazi was the home secretary who often travels abroad for official visits and the presence of his name on the ECL causes difficulties for him.
The court remarked that Kazi was accused of serious corruption charges and questioned how they could exclude his name in a hurry. CJ Sheikh remarked that the decision would be taken according to the law, adding that a decision would have been taken sooner if he was an ordinary man.
The SHC adjourned the hearing of a plea against the Sindh government and its anti-corruption department, for harassing Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director-General (DG) Basheer Memon and his family, due to the absence of the petitioner’s counsel, Shahabuddin.
The chief secretary and the anti-corruption department chairperson requested time to submit their reply.
A two-member bench heard the petition by Manzar Memon, son of Basheer Memon, who argued that the provincial government was harassing the family by filing false corruption cases against them. He added that members of the family serving as government employees were also being transferred for no reason.
Chief Justice Sheikh accepted a plea seeking the transfer of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) references from accountability court of Karachi to Hyderabad. The plea was filed by former Mukhtiarkar Irshad Kamalani and Raheem Burfat. The accused are booked for illegally allotting 729 acres of official land to DHA City Karachi’s (DCK) project in Jamshoro district.
The accused said that Jamshoro district was a part of Hyderabad division and so their reference should be transferred to Hyderabad. The CJ asked if DHA had been made respondent in the reference. He expressed annoyance at NAB and directed it to ensure DHA was made a respondent.
Meanwhile, Justice Sheikh extended the pre-arrest bail till March 8 of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) MPA and former local government minister, Jam Khan Shoro, who is accused in three different cases. The court also directed the NAB prosecutor to prepare his arguments and ensure his presence at the next hearing on Shoro’s bail plea. The protective bail plea was filed by former provincial minister for local government Jam Khan Shoro, who appeared before the court. Shoro stated that he was given a call-up notice by NAB and he had assured NAB officials of his full cooperation.
The CJ remarked that the inquiry had been completed and now the investigation should be conducted in the case. “When will the investigation be started, tell us,” the court asked the NAB Investigation Officer (IO). He came down hard on the IO and remarked that if he delayed, the would will continue for up to three years.
The IO responded that the investigation would be completed within a month. According to NAB officials, the former minister is facing inquiries in three different cases. He has been accused of involvement in illegal allotment of 62 government plots in Gulistan-e-Jauhar in which the former Karachi Development Authority (KDA) Director General Nasir Abbas has also been arrested. illegal allotments caused a loss of more than Rs180 million to the national exchequer.
Shoro is also facing charges of encroaching upon 262 acres of land in Thatta and setting up a petrol station on the land of a water hydrant in Qasimabad in Hyderabad.
A probe against Shoro was launched by the accountability watchdog in October last year.
The SHC sought a report of the previous hearing of the accountability court (AC) on a bail plea filed by former Sindh information secretary Zulfiqar Ali Shalwani, accused in a corruption case.
While the SHC was hearing the bail plea of the former secretary in a corruption case of Rs5.76 billion in the information department, a reference against Shalwani was already under way in the accountability court of Karachi.
Ali Wajid, counsel for the accused, told the court that after April 10, none of NAB’s witnesses identified his client. He added that his client has been behind bars for three years.
Wajid also said that during three years of hearings, at least 10 witnesses of the NAB had recorded their statements. “There are 23 witnesses in the case so it’s expected to take further three years to record all witnesses,” he said
The counsel said that NAB had arrested Shalwani after his interim bail was rejected by the SHC, adding that this was the third time that his client filed his bail appeal.
The court adjourned the hearing till January 28.
With additional reporting from PPI
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2019.