The Peshawar High Court refused to grant interim bail to former Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa minister for mines and mineral development Ziaullah Afridi on Wednesday.
A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel and Justice Irshad Qaiser refused to grant interim bail and ordered a hearing of the case on September 10 along with several other cases where the legality of the Ehtesab Commission had been challenged.
Barrister Mudasir Ameer, counsel for Ziaullah, told the court his client was arrested on July 9 in a mining scam. PHC had already granted him bail in one case related to illegal mining and transfers in Nowshera. However, the commission had booked his client in two other similar cases in Charsadda and Abbottabad, which is against the law.
The attorney added that initially it was a case of illegal mining and appointments but during his client’s custody at the commission lock-up, two more cases were filed against him to detain him for longer.
Defending his client and questioning the inconsistency of the commission’s orders, Barrister Ameer cited Section 36 of K-P Ehtesab Commission Act 2014, saying that when a reference is not filed in a case, it cannot be taken as an offence. According to Section 42 (8) of the Ehtesab Commission (Amendment) Act 2015 “A person accused of more offences than one of the same kind committed during the space of any number of years from the first to the last such offences, may be charged with and tried at one trial for any number of such offences.”
However, Additional Deputy Prosecutor General Qazi Babar Irshad said new amendments were made in the 2014 legislation through which the interim bails should not be granted. He said that during the interrogation of the accused, new cases emerged which also involved corruption. The court then refused to release Ziaullah on interim bail and fixed his cases to be heard on merit on September 10.
Past and present
On August 24, a division bench of Justice Musarat Hilali and Justice Muhammad Younas Taheem granted bail to Ziaullah in one case. On the very next day, the commission sent the accused to Central Prison Peshawar in two other illegal mining scams.
The commission had arrested Ziaullah on July 9 in a case related to illegal mining from Mama Khel area of Nowshera. In August, two more cases of a similar nature from Charsadda and Abbottabad were registered against him where the government claimed Rs6 billion were embezzled.
“I had registered 97 FIRs in the province, including 17 in Nowshera, against those who were involved in illegal mining. However, the police failed to arrest a single one,” Ziaullah told the court during the proceedings on August 4.
The same bench also refused to grant interim bail to Mines and Minerals Director General Dr Laiqat Ali in four cases where the commission arrested him on charges of illegal mining, transfers and appointments.
Aminur Rehman Yousafzai, counsel for Dr Laiqat, told the court that his client was arrested on June 17 in an illegal mining case. The accused spent 55 days in the physical custody of the commission because three more cases were also registered against him.
He requested the court to grant an interim bail to the suspect because he is presently jailed at Central Prison Peshawar.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2015.