Prize bonds heist: SHC grants bail to convicted NBP employee

Court Nazir asked to verify property value, the bench directed its office to fix the matter for hearing.

Our Correspondent July 20, 2014

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) has suspended the sentence of the imprisoned custodian of the National Bank of Pakistan’s locker convicted for his involvement in misappropriation of the government prize bonds worth Rs 10 million.

A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, also granted him bail against the surety of one million rupees during the pendency of the trial.

The accused had filed an appeal under Section 10 of the Offences in Respect of Bank (Special Courts) Ordinance 1984, challenging the order passed by the Special Judge (Offences in Banks) Karachi on May 11, 2012.

In its judgment, the trial court had held that the accused being holders of the public offices had intentionally committed offence of criminal breach of trust and misappropriated the prize bonds worth Rs11 million from the strong room of the National Bank of Pakistan’s Risala Road Branch. Hence, the accused, Salamullah Qureshi and Haji Mateenuddin, were convicted and sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment with direction to pay Rs9.5 million as fine. In case of default, the court further ordered them to serve 21 years in jail.

One of the convicts, Haji Mateenuddin, moved an application under Section 426(1-A)(b) of the Criminal Procedure Code seeking suspension of the sentence awarded to him.

His lawyer, Barrister Benysh Qureshi, informed the court that that a SHC division bench had earlier granted bail to the appellant in sum of Rs190,00,000 surety during pendency of the trial on November 27, 2001.

The lawyer maintained that the same surety is still intact, adding that the SHC division bench had later reduced the surety amount to Rs10million through an order on January 10, 2002. To verify this claim the court had previously directed the SHC Nazir to submit a report regarding the status of the surety amount.

During Friday’s hearing, the Nazir submitted the report, which stated that Nasreen Akhtar had deposited the lease deed of her plot situated in Hyderabad, while the co-accused, Mumtaz Rana and Abdul Waseem, had also deposited the lease deed of the property situated in Hyderabad and Karachi.

The judges were told that according to the jail role submitted to the court on July 11 the un-served portion of the appellant’s sentence is four years, 11 months and 26 days only and he is 66-years-old.

Standing counsel, Shaikh Liaquat Hussain, admitted that the appellant was on bail during the pendency of the trial and raised no objection to the grant of bail to him, if the surety in sum of Rs10 million is furnished to the satisfaction of the SHC Nazir.

The standing counsel also raised no objection if the earlier surety furnished by the wife of the appellant Mumtaz Rana and brother-in-law is accepted to proper valuation of the property by the SHC Nazir.

“By consent this application is allowed and the impugned judgment is suspended,” the two-judges ruled after hearing the arguments from both sides.

The bench granted bail to the appellant in sum of Rs10 million surety, which was already lying with the SHC Nazir. However, the appellant was directed to execute fresh personal cognizance bond.

Directing the Nazir to verify the property value, the bench directed its office to fix the matter for regular hearing immediately after the summer vacations.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2014.