KARACHI: Granting pre-arrest bail to the former secretary of the religious affairs department in the second graft case, the Sindh High Court (SHC) further restrained on Monday the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from taking any coercive action against him for embezzlement in the funds meant for the renovation of worship places.
A division bench, headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, passed these directives on two new bail pleas moved by Badar Jamil Mandhro, who is currently serving as secretary of the excise and taxation department.
On June 8, another SHC bench had granted post-arrest bail to Mandhro as well as a former director of the religious affairs department, Khadim Hussain Channa, against a surety of Rs1 million each in a case relating to illegal appointments and corruption in the minorities' affairs department.
On Monday, the secretary filed two separate petitions, seeking bail in two corruption references likely to be filed by the NAB authorities against him. The petitioner said he had come to know that NAB was investigating a bank transaction of Rs10.5 million that was allegedly made to his bank account. He apprehended that a fresh reference in this regard may be filed by the officials, therefore, he may be granted bail before arrest in the said case.
Allowing the request, the two judges granted bail against a sum of Rs1 million to the secretary with the direction to join the inquiry when required by the investigators and cooperate with them.
In the other plea, the secretary said the officials have started an inquiry into the award of contracts for the renovation of worship places belonging to religious minorities. He said NAB officials recently summoned him to record his statement regarding the misappropriation of Rs150 million by awarding contracts in violation of the laws for the renovation of churches and temples in the province.
The petition said that while he was ready to face any inquiry, there was likelihood that he would be arrested. He pleaded the court to restrain the authorities from arresting him. The judges, however, issued notice to the additional deputy prosecutor general of NAB and others to file their comments in this regard. Meanwhile, NAB officials were restrained from taking any coercive action against the petitioner.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2015.