KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed on Tuesday the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to submit documentary evidence in the Rs60 million corruption case in district Thatta's accounts office by March 28.
A two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali Sheikh and comprising Justice Omar Sial heard the case. The CJ censured the absence of the investigation officer (IO) and said in his remarks that the NAB prosecutor could not even bring the file of the case to the court. He said that the documentary evidence against the suspects must be disclosed by NAB.
The case prosecutor argued that the file of the case was unavailable and requested for more time from the court. In his remarks, CJ Sheikh said that such a request would not have been made if the prosecution was prepared.
Criticising the NAB Director Hafeez Siddiqui, the CJ remarked that on the one hand, the IO was absent while on the other, the NAB director had no knowledge of the case.
The CJ asked the director to submit a written affidavit to ensure his presence along with the investigation report and case officers at the next hearing. If any of the three is found missing, he added, the court will ask NAB director-general to personally appear with the files.
Payment strategy sought
The same bench heard the bail pleas of accused, Zubair and others, in the case pertaining to the disappearance of billions of rupees worth of wheat from Sindh's warehouses. The court directed the counsels for the accused to prepare a strategy for payment against the loss.
The counsel for the accused maintained that the defence was ready to pay compensation for all the losses incurred. The NAB prosecutor maintained that the accused had only stated the amount of loss incurred and not the mark-up. The CJ remarked that the accused would need to compensate the mark-up as well.
The court in its remarks said that IOs continue the practice of riding in vehicles marked as case property. On the other hand, NAB's counsel maintained that the Sukkur branch of NAB was not involved in any such activity. The court remarked that if that was the case, then why do we see transfers of NAB officers to Quetta and Lahore.
The wheat in the warehouses was meant to facilitate the poor. The court asked the IO about the related minister to which the officer replied that former MPA Nisar Khuhro and Food Secretary Sajjad Abbasi were also facing inquiries. The court adjourned the hearing till April 2 while directing the suspects to prepare a strategy for payment.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2019.