SHC gives flour mill owners two months to pay all arrears

Food official tells court the parties reached an agreement in the corruption reference

Our Correspondent June 27, 2019
Sindh High Court. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed flour mill owners on Wednesday to pay the mark-up money and arrears while hearing the reference against them of Rs400m corruption committed by getting wheat from the Sindh food department. A two-member bench comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice Omar Sial heard the corruption reference.

The food department presented the details of the meeting before the court. An official of the food department informed the court that his department, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials and flour mill owners collectively found a solution to the issue. All flour mill owners returned the money for the wheat but the mark-up money was not paid. The flour mill owners have been informed of the markup details.

The court directed flour mill owners to pay the mark-up money and all remaining arrears immediately. The court remarked that all dues should be paid by August 23 or the bail pleas of the accused would be rejected and adjourned the hearing.

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According to the counsel for the accused, the money for the wheat taken from the food department was paid within 180 days according to the policy. The counsel argued that NAB was demanding mark-up money which was higher than the price of wheat. Khairpur, Ranipur and Sachal Flour Mills owners borrowed wheat from the Sindh food department.

According to NAB, the accused allegedly misplaced the wheat after borrowing it from the government.

Missing employee

Another two-member bench, comprising Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Saleem Jessar, directed police officials to take immediate action on a plea filed for the recovery of Sindh education and literacy department's missing employee, Aslam Kamal.

Aslam's wife informed the court that is has been five years since her husband went missing. She said that their daughter's wedding is coming up and the department has also stopped paying Aslam's salary now.

The court expressed annoyance with police officials for not making any headway in the case.'

"Does anyone realise what the family of a missing person goes through?" asked Justice Rizvi. He remarked that the police and other law enforcement agencies were not doing anything. The departments take around three months to complete just the paper work, said Justice Rizvi, adding that the police was simply playing the role of a postman.

The court asked if it would take another six months to find out where the missing person was?

The court directed police officials to take immediate steps for Aslam's recovery and find his whereabouts.

Illegal land allotment

Meanwhile, the bench comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice Omar Sial gave NAB officials an extension to file the reference against the accused in the inquiry against Sindh chief minister's inspection team chairperson, Abdul Subhan Memon, and others.

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NAB officials presented a previous verdict passed by the high court in a land allotment case.

The court directed NAB officials to submit a copy of that verdict in the court and provide another copy to the accused.

The court inquired from the NAB prosecutor when the inquiry against the accused would be completed and the reference would be filed.

NAB prosecutor said that a month's time was needed to file the reference. He informed the court that after completing the inquiry, the reference has been sent to the NAB chairperson for approval.

The court gave NAB the extension and adjourned hearing till August 22.

According to NAB, the accused gave seven acres of land in Jamshoro to Qadir Bakhsh Shoro while he was still on the run. A total of 49 acres of land was allotted and Rajputana Hospital filed a plea claiming that the land belongs to them. To whom was the land was allotted, the hospital had asked. Around 42 acres of land was returned to the hospital following orders by the Supreme Court. Abdul Subhan and others are accused of allotting an amenity plot in Hyderabad illegally.

Bail granted

The same bench granted interim bail to former minister Sharjeel Memon till August 6 and issued notices to NAB Sindh director-general and NAB prosecutor. A two-member bench comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice Omar Sial was hearing the pre-arrest bail plea filed by Memon in the inquiry against him pertaining to illegal assets.

Memon's counsel, Khalid Javed, maintained that NAB's inquiry is based on mala fide intent and his client fears arrest. He asked for NAB officials to be restricted from arresting his client and said that the court cancelled NAB's arrest warrant for Memon in this case as NAB's mala fide intent was exposed.

The court accepted Memon's interim pre-arrest bail plea till August 6 and sought replies from the NAB Sindh DG and NAB prosecutor. The bench directed Memon to submit Rs1 million as surety amount against the bail. 

Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2019.

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