KARACHI: In a detailed verdict issued by the Sindh High Court (SHC) on pleas filed by individuals convicted of carrying out corruption in National Insurance Company Limited, the court declared on Thursday that the investigation of the case is “not transparent and faulty.”
Announcing the verdict, Justice Omar Sial raised questions over the investigation conducted by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and remarked that if the watchdog bodies continue to carry out “faulty investigations, people would lose confidence in them.”
The high court, in its verdict, has termed the corruption case “suspicious,” finding several contradictions in the investigation by FIA and NAB. It is has suggested that the FIA Director General (DG) review all the cases investigated by the investigation officer (IO) of this particular case.
Moreover, the court has also pointed out contradictions in the trial court’s observations and the verdict passed by it.
Raising questions over the previous verdict, the high court remarked, “If one of the accused is acquitted, then of what significance do the allegations levelled against other accused remain?” It further said that NAB has failed to define who benefitted from the loss caused to the national treasury.
The court has ordered the FIA DG and NAB chairman to train IOs and annulled the verdict passed by an accountability court on December 8, 2018.
The accountability court had sentenced the persons accused in the case to seven years of imprisonment.
Meanwhile, a two-member bench of SHC issued notices to the Sindh government, Sindh Inspector General (IG) and other parties, over a plea filed against the sale of gutka, mawa and other concoctions injurious to health, in Thatta and Sujawal.
Presenting the petitioner Baradev’s case before the bench comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Agha Faisal, Advocate Irfan Aziz informed the court that a mafia, operating under police protection, is involved in the sale of gutka in Thatta and Sujjawal. He claimed that police officials refrain from registering FIRs against gutka dealers.
Aziz said, “gutka mafia, furthering an international agenda, is playing with the lives of our youth”, and cause the spread of fatal diseases like cancer. He claimed that reports issued by Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital and Kiran Hospital show that mouth cancer accounts for almost 90% of cancer cases.
The counsel for the petitioner informed the court that Baradev is being threatened by the gutka mafia and moved it to direct the relevant officials in Thatta and Sujawal to take action against the nefarious elements. He also requested the court to provide security to the petitioner.
Following the counsel’s request, the court issued notices to the provincial government, Sindh IG and other parties, directing them to submit replies over the plea by November 26.
Illegal land allotment case
In another case, the court reserved the verdict on an illegal land allotment case, registered against Pak Sarzameen Party leader Mustafa Kamal and others, giving the parties three days to submit their arguments in writing.
The parties’ counsels completed the arguments before a two-member bench, comprising Justice Ahmed Ali Shaikh and Justice Omar Sial.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor maintained before the court that money was returned through the secretary. Responding to the prosecutor’s statement, the court inquired “whether any poor person was paid directly?”
Accused Iftekhar Qaimkhani’s counsel requested the court to allow him to submit a counter reply.
The court reserved the verdict on the case, following the completion of the arguments, and gave the parties three days to submit their arguments in writing.
Illegal occupation of land
Another two-member bench, comprising Justice Syed Hassan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Kausar Sultana, again issued a notice to the administration of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation United Workers Cooperative Housing Society. The notice has been issued over pleas filed against the illegal occupation of plots in the housing society, in Surjani Town.
The pleas have been filed by more than 30 individuals who have been allotted plots in the housing society.
Presenting their case, advocate Usman Farooq maintained before the court that the petitioners have sub-lease allotment papers, transfer letters and other relevant documents, however, they have been prevented from acquiring possession of their plots as land mafia, operating under police patronage, has illegally occupied their land. He said that the mafia is very influential and has started construction on the illegally occupied plots.
The petitioners have invested their entire savings in the plots, he said, adding that they will be left homeless if not given the possession of their plots. Farooq moved the court to pass orders that the plots be handed back to the rightful allottees.
The court issued a notice to the administration of the housing society and sought a reply over the plea by November 22.
Meanwhile, the bench comprising Justice Shaikh and Justice Sial ordered NAB to end the inquiry pertaining to the illegal allotment of Karachi Development Authority plots, launched against former local government minister Jam Khan Shoro. The court also ordered NAB to Rs1 million, submitted as bail surety, to the former minister.
As the hearing began, the NAB prosecutor submitted a report to the court and informed the bench that no evidence has been found against Shoro. Hence, he longer needs to be investigated in the case, he said.
Thereafter, the court ordered NAB to end the inquiry initiated against Shoro and to return the amount submitted as bail surety to Shoro.
The same bench also ordered NAB to file a reference against former law minister and Pakistan Peoples Party leader Ziaul Hassan Lanjar, who is accused of possessing assets beyond means, by November 28.
During the hearing, the NAB prosecutor sought more time for filing the reference against Lanjar. He informed the court that inquiry against Lanjar has been completed and the reference has been referred to NAB headquarters for approval.
The court ordered NAB to submit a report by November 28 after filling the reference and extended the interim bail of the former law minister.
According to NAB, Lanjar owns a bungalow located in Defence Housing Authority, Karachi, which he had not declared before the Election Commission of Pakistan. The national accountability watchdog has alleged Lanjar of transferring money from public funds to his account, via a frontman, and embezzling funds allocated to Medical College Nawabshah and other colleges. It has claimed that the Rs170 million from public funds and Rs130 million allocated to colleges were transferred to Lanjar’s account.