Embezzlement trial: Manner of Moonis acquittal outrages Supreme Court

Published: October 26, 2011
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Moonis Elahi waves to party workers as he arrives for hearing. PHOTO: INP

Moonis Elahi waves to party workers as he arrives for hearing. PHOTO: INP

ISLAMABAD: 

Acquittal in a Lahore banking court does not appear to be the end of Punjab Assembly member Moonis Elahi’s legal troubles.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed outrage at the way the investigation into Elahi’s alleged involvement with the National Insurance Company Ltd (NICL) was handled by the interior ministry and the Federal Investigation Agency.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry questioned the acquittal of Elahi, particularly why the accusations against the Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PML-Q) leader were separated from the main NICL embezzlement scandal trial.

“Why was he [Elahi] tried separately? The other accused are still behind bars. Justice should be equal for everyone,” remarked the chief justice.

The court also ordered Interior Secretary Khwaja Siddique Akbar and FIA Director General Tehseen Anwar Shah to respond to allegations by Zafar Qureshi, the former lead investigator in the case, that they had deliberately created hurdles in the investigation.

Qureshi retired on September 30, without being able to complete his probe. Yet, he continued to testify regarding the case, alleging, for instance, that bank accounts of Moonis Elahi that were frozen during the investigation were somehow unfrozen and the money in them released to Elahi.

Qureshi named Waqar Haider, a director at the FIA, and Zulfiqar Ali, a legal officer at the agency, as being responsible for allowing Elahi to move his money out of his accounts before the probe ended.

In addition to providing details of Elahi’s assets abroad, Qureshi also alleged that Habibullah Warraich, a former cabinet minister who is one of the accused in the case, was allowed to board a flight at Karachi Airport and leave the country.

This information visibly upset the chief justice, who then asked where the absconders in the case were. FIA Legal Director Azam Khan replied that they were in the United Kingdom. Khan also admitted that about Rs420 million of the embezzled amount had yet to be recovered from the accused.

“What is going on, Mr Attorney General,” he asked angrily of Maulvi Anwarul Haq, who was representing the federation in the case.

Since Qureshi’s retirement, the investigation has been taken over by Waqar Haider, a director at the FIA’s Lahore office, who is working with the team that Qureshi had initially assembled to probe the case.

The court issued notices to Haider and Azam Khan, in addition to the attorney general, the interior secretary, and the FIA director general to appear before the court on November 2 to explain why their orders regarding the NICL scam’s investigation were not being implemented.

(Read: Search for justice)

Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2011. 

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Reader Comments (24)

  • anybodyagree
    Oct 26, 2011 - 6:32AM

    above the law . . .!!!

    Recommend

  • Mirza
    Oct 26, 2011 - 6:40AM

    There are lots of corrupt and criminal people in Pakistan. However, the SC and its CJ have a personal likes (PML-N, Sharifs and fanatics) and dislikes (PPP, PML-Q and opponents of Sharifs). There are so many cases languishing and crying for justice for decades but the SC CJ is interested in only a few handpicked cases.
    Like in any court system, the SC should only hear a petition when all appeals and trials in lower courts are exhausted and there are constitutional questions. SC is not a trial court in any other country. Let us not make things personal and move on. Only the factions of PML who did not align themselves with Sharifs are being tried not people like Aqeel. Let us get real and stop shoveling against the tide. There are many murder cases waiting for the SC to finally take any action.

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  • Parvez Amin
    Oct 26, 2011 - 6:57AM

    The government is continuously acting in ways that will severely damage our society. Honest, competent, determined people like Zafar Qureshi are being opposed. While other bureaucrats, of lesser metal are grovelling and bringing disgrace to their proud service.

    Recommend

  • Oct 26, 2011 - 7:28AM

    This is Pakistan. Sixty-four years of fraud, forgery and deceit. The cops put to a merciless death a poor man; Sarfaraz and the Rangers is one of hundreds of cases, and get away ‘scot free’ and a rich man buys his justice. PMLQ murdabad. Salams to us.

    Recommend

  • starboy
    Oct 26, 2011 - 7:50AM

    Cheif Justice should take a suo moto notice of nawaz shareef corruption cases as well, which are pending in NAB for the last 10 years.

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  • Oct 26, 2011 - 8:00AM

    Might is right……..! Law and punishment is for poor people. phool ki pathian(flower leaves) for mighty people;

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  • Aamir
    Oct 26, 2011 - 8:51AM

    He may have been declared innocent but inshah ALLAH he will be punished on the day of resurrectionRecommend

  • Ikramuddin Akbar
    Oct 26, 2011 - 9:05AM

    And what was the main causes of the down fall of the Mughal Empire!

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  • Amir Wayn
    Oct 26, 2011 - 9:15AM

    Mr. CJ, No one is ready to follow your commands. The best way for you is to take GHQ in confidence and let them come in.

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  • Malik
    Oct 26, 2011 - 9:25AM

    we live in a country where you can Buy justice. sad but true

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  • anwar
    Oct 26, 2011 - 9:27AM

    Outraged or not He is free!!! Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Oct 26, 2011 - 9:45AM

    Innocent poor people burn themselves in front of parliaments to get a little attention unto themselves. While rich thieves are received with open arms and garlands, and given a heroes welcome in Pakistan. Is it a wonder to anyone why we as a nation as going through such upheaval? Recommend

  • Lalai
    Oct 26, 2011 - 10:06AM

    Too much for a free and independent judiciary. Chief justice should do the judgement based on the evidence presented in front of him. It is not his job to become a prosecutor and micro manage the investigations. Jumping beyond jurisdiction is something that has destroyed our integrity before and my humble request to CJ is to avoid it.

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  • Billoo Bhaya
    Oct 26, 2011 - 10:11AM

    @Ikramuddin Akbar:
    Right you are. Good point.

    Recommend

  • Billoo Bhaya
    Oct 26, 2011 - 10:13AM

    @anwar:
    The day of his release he flew to London to withdraw funds from his accounts leaving no trail. He is not stupid.

    Recommend

  • Hassan Isphani
    Oct 26, 2011 - 10:30AM

    My word! Moonis has proven to be a brave and strong willed politician. I admire the way he returned to fight his case. Not many would do this. Good example for others to follow. Face the law and fight for your right is the message that I read in Moonis Elahi’s quest for justice.

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  • Truth Hurts
    Oct 26, 2011 - 11:01AM

    Justice Served ?

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  • Siddh
    Oct 26, 2011 - 11:07AM

    NRO is here but what about the hereafter??? Do they think the angels will be interested in their golds and investments? Hell fire for them I hope

    Recommend

  • Imran
    Oct 26, 2011 - 11:20AM

    @Mirza: I am not commenting because you wrote what i was going to write.

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  • Oct 26, 2011 - 11:29AM

    @Mirza:

    Have a bit of mercy on us poor Pakistanis. Whether SC is against one party or the other, does that make Moonis Elahi innocent? Let the corrupt be taken to task. Recommend

  • uH
    Oct 26, 2011 - 1:15PM

    Happy Democracy everyone! :)

    Recommend

  • Ikramuddin Akbar
    Oct 26, 2011 - 3:16PM

    A brand new leader is ready to “serve” Pakistan better! One of the necessary training process is completed.

    Recommend

  • ashraf javed
    Oct 26, 2011 - 4:38PM

    @ Mirza Do not forget about the status of living of this family,they are sons of a foot constable not a business man,buerocrat,fuedal.CJ must get investigation report by using article 190 from an isi investigation unit.Cj should dare and tak action against interior minister who allowed the other culpurit to flee away.Recommend

  • HammerHead
    Oct 26, 2011 - 11:25PM

    Pen is mightier than the sword……. I disagree

    Recommend

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