The Peshawar High Court accepted the petition of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa former minister for mines and minerals Ziaullah Afridi and ordered his release on bail on Monday.
The division bench of Justice Musarat Hilali and Justice Muhammad Younas Taheem ordered the release of Ziaullah on the condition that he furnish a surety bond worth Rs2 million and two personal sureties.
Abdul Latif Afridi, counsel for Ziaullah, reminded the bench that under the K-P Ehtesab Commission (Amendment) Act 2015, an accused can only be kept in custody for 45 days. He said Ziaullah had already completed the required days in custody.
“Under Section 36 of K-P Ehtesab Commission (Amendment) Act 2015, when a reference is not filed in a case, it cannot be taken as an offence. All important records of the department are in the possession of the commission and it makes no sense to detain the former minister,” stated Abdul Latif in court.
Mudasir Ameer, another counsel for Ziaullah, told the division bench that on August 7, his client was sent to prison, but his physical custody was extended in another case, which is against the law.
The EC opposed the release of the accused on bail, adding billions of rupees were embezzled during his tenure as minister for mines and mineral development.
Justice Hilali asked Deputy Prosecutor General Zahid Aman, if he had gathered any evidence during Ziaullah’s custody to which the latter replied that a scam of Rs1.4 billion emerged and Ziaullah’s name was put on the Exit Control List. “We also issued a third arrest warrant on August 12 regarding the contracts of phosphate mines in Abbottabad,” said Aman.
Aman also stated other culprits accused of similar crimes were granted bail by the high court since they were on the judicial custody in prison. “Since the former minister is in custody of EC, he is not liable to be granted bail,” he added.
In the past
Ziaullah was arrested on July 9 for misappropriation of billions of rupees through illegal mining. Later, EC registered two other cases against Ziaullah for illegal mining in Charsadda and Abbottabad. The cases stated the minister was involved in illegal mining in Nowshera district and making unlawful appointments and transfers in the department during his tenure.
“The accused used his position to influence members of the mining committee in the renewal and assignment of Chromite mines in Tangi to Jalal Khattak which was against the Concession Rules 2005,” a statement issued by EC said about Afridi’s second case. It also stated that the mines were supposed to be auctioned instead of the contract being renewed.
The third case registered against the former minister pertains to his alleged involvement in awarding mining contracts in Abbottabad and this, according to the EC, caused a loss of Rs3 billion to the provincial exchequer.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2015.