KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) has ordered that inquiries that have been pending for up to 14 years be concluded within two months. On Thursday, NAB officials presented a report regarding delays in inquiries before the two-member bench of SHC Chief Justice Ahmed Ali Shaikh and Justice Omar Sial. The report states that 155 inquiries were facing delays for the past 14 years in NAB Sindh. Of these, 97 inquiries pertaining to billions rupees of corruption were awaiting verdict in Karachi only.
SHC CJ Ahmed Ali Shaikh expressed annoyance with NAB Sindh over their poor performance. He questioned whether NAB was satisfied with its own performance. This will not work. The court will have to issue a summon for the NAB Chairman.
The chief justice, while addressing the NAB Operations DG, said that he would get fed up and resign from his post if there was an inquiry against him that went on for 14 years.
The Operations DG said that some inquiries were facing delays due to stay orders issued by the courts.
The CJ remarked that it seemed like the NAB officials were waiting for an amendment in the NAB Tax Ordinance. The cases will be transferred to FBR after the amendment and then everyone will rejoice. The court ordered the NAB officials to conclude inquiries that have been facing delays within two months.
The SHC sought arguments from the accused’s counsel over the bail plea filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Kamran Michael in a reference of corruption in the Karachi Port Trust Cooperative Housing Society.
The same bench was hearing the bail plea. The court directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor to provide a copy of the case to the accused’s counsels. The court sought arguments from the accused’s counsel over the bail plea and adjourned the hearing till September 18.
According to the NAB, 16 plots were illegally allotted at extremely low prices in the KPT Cooperative Housing Society and Kamran Michael collected Rs110 million as a bribe for the allotment of three commercial plots.
Illegal appointment in KDA
The same bench wrapped up the inquiry, pertaining to the illegal appointment and promotion of a Karachi Development Authority (KDA) employee, against accused Atta Abbas Zaidi and Shahid Qamar due to lack of evidence.
The court was hearing the bail plea filed by the accused, Atta Abbas Zaidi and Shahid Qamar. NAB Karachi DG appeared before the court. The judges asked the DG if he had permission to investigate this case. The NAB DG responded that he hadn’t sought any permission and that he had written to the head office, only after completing their inquiry into the matter.
The NAB officials failed to provide evidence against the accused again. The court closed the inquiry against the accused due to lack of evidence.
The counsel for the accused, Advocate Shaukat Hayat, had argued that the court had also issued a show-cause notice to the NAB officials for running an illegal inquiry. The legal requirements were fulfilled later. The inquiry against the accused should be ended since there was no solid evidence against them.
The SHC Chief Justice took notice on Thursday of a news item pertaining to the shortage of anti-rabies vaccines in Dadu Civil Hospital and Chandka Hospital Larkana and summoned the health secretary and the deputy commissioners of Larkana and Dadu.
The SHC Chief Justice took notice after the news was aired on TV channels. He sought replies from the respondents by today (September 6).
More than 100 dog-bite incidents were reported in a week in the two districts but there were no vaccines in the hospitals, the news reports claimed.
Missing persons’ cases
Meanwhile, police claimed to have made major headway into the missing persons’ cases, with officials informing the court that seven persons, who had been missing for the past several months, had returned home.
A two-member bench, comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice Khadim Hussain Tunio, was hearing the pleas filed for the recovery of missing persons. During the hearing, the police investigation team submitted a report, which states that seven persons, identified as Muhammad Nadeem, Ajab Khan, Javed Qureshi, Salim and others, have returned home.
The court expressed satisfaction with the report and ordered the Government of Sindh, home department and other agencies to submit a progress report after recovering other missing persons in a month.
The SHC issued warrants for the KDA Land Director and KMC director in a case pertaining to the illegal occupation of land, owned by citizens in Gulistan-e-Jauhar.
A two-member bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Agha Faisal, was hearing the case. The petitioner’s counsel argued that the land mafia has illegally occupied 404 plots in Gulistan-e-Jauhar Block-6, in connivance with KDA officials and police. The court has directed multiple times to give possession of these plots to the owners.
The in-charge of the police post was also supporting the land mafia, said the petitioner, adding that the KDA officials and police personnel were openly violating judicial orders. The water pipeline was broken in the presence of the police check-post. Garbage and debris are also being dumped on the plots. Contempt of court action should be taken against the KDA and police officials, the petitioner requested.
The court issued warrants for the KDA Land Director and KMC director for not appearing before the court. Advocate Azra Muqim maintained that the KMC director was on his way to court, but couldn’t reach on time due to the traffic jam. The KDA counsel said that the land director was informed about the judicial orders.
Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar remarked that officials should be advised to take judicial orders seriously. Their arrest warrants could also be issued. The court was giving them a chance to appear before the court while accepting their bail against a surety of Rs100,000.
The judge ordered the officials to reach the court on time at the next hearing on October 3.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2019.
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