The Peshawar High Court granted bail to four men arrested by the Ehtesab Commission over charges of corruption. Counsels for the accused argued the commission overstepped its authority in detaining their clients.
The directives were issued by a bench comprising Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel and Justice Irshad Qaiser on Thursday. Former Pakistan Peoples Party provincial minister for excise and taxation Liaqat Shabab and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA Gul Sahib Khan’s father Noor Daraz Khattak were both given bail against surety bonds. Both men had been arrested in corruption cases by the commission.
The court also granted bail to additional finance secretary Imtiaz Ayub and patwari Muhammad Daud Khan in their respective cases
Aminur Rehman, counsel for Tehsil Municipal Officer Khattak, told the bench the commission arrested his client on April 17 in a Kohat land purchase case
Rehman argued the commission had the authority to detain an accused for only 45 days and sending Khattak on judicial remand was illegal. “My client is suspected of violating the law in the case. He was neither a beneficiary nor a signatory of the deal,” he said.
Rehman added his client was also implicated in another case related to appointments in Town I and III.
Representing the commission, Zahid Aman informed the court the accused were remanded the special court constituted under the Ehtesab Commission Act 2014. In response, Miankhel questioned the law under which the suspects were jailed and was not satisfied with Aman’s answer.
Counsel for Shabab, Qazi Jawad Ihsanullah said the high court had already issued an order against his client’s arrest. “Since there is no provision of the Criminal Procedure Code in the commission act of 2014, sending any suspect on judicial remand exceeds the commission’s jurisdiction,” added Ihsanullah.
Upon hearing the arguments, the court granted Khattak’s bail against a surety bond of Rs4 million, Shabab against Rs2 million and Ayub and Daud against a surety bond of Rs1 million and two personal bonds each.
Khattak and Daud were arrested by the EC in a land-grabbing case of over 150 kanals worth approximately Rs250 million in Moza Jarma area of Kohat. It was discovered the former was actively involved in the scam and was a principal beneficiary along with the other four accused. He was later charged in another appointments case.
On May 28, Shabab was arrested in an accumulation of assets case. A press release issued by the commission stated Shabab’s assets include plots, houses, agriculture land, numerous bank accounts with unjustified transactions and vehicles. “His arrest was essentially required for the ongoing investigation,” it added.
Many cases are currently in litigation as petitioners argue they were already under investigation by federal or provincial bodies when the Ehtesab Commission started looking into the matter.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2015.