SHC rejects Durrani’s plea for suspending NAB proceedings

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A bench of Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday rejected a plea seeking suspension of NAB reference proceedings against Sindh Assembly’s Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani.

Learned judge asked Durrani’s counsel why the reference was not challenged in a lower court.

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The counsel of Agha Siraj pleaded that his client didn’t misuse his authority. The NAB didn’t issue a call up notice to Siraj Durrani, the lawyer argued.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) counsel argued before the bench that Durrani misused his powers as minister and speaker. The court issued notice to NAB for a detailed reply over the matter.

An accountability court was hearing a reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against Agha Siraj Durrani. The NAB had filed reference pertaining to assets beyond means of income against Agha Siraj Durrani and others.

The NAB named 20 persons including Agha Siraj as accused in the reference filed in an accountability court in Karachi after an inquiry. Agha Siraj Durrani has been in jail on judicial remand.

According to the NAB charge-sheet the accused were involved in corruption of up to Rs 1.6 billion. The NAB executive board had approved filing of a reference against Agha Siraj Durrani in assets case.

The NAB Karachi had arrested Speaker Sindh Assembly Agha Siraj Durrani from a hotel in Islamabad in February this year.

Meanwhile, an accountability court in Lahore extended judicial remand of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) leader and Member of the National Assembly (MNA) Khawaja Saad Rafique and his brother Salman Rafique until July 16 in the Paragon Housing Society scam.

According to details, judge Syed Najam-ul Hassan presided over the hearing during which, the court has directed to launch proceedings to declare Nadeem Zia, Umar and Farhan Ali as proclaimed offenders.

Meanwhile, a heavy contingent of police was deployed around the court to prevent party workers from disrupting law and order situation during their appearance. The Khawaja brothers have been accused of embezzling nearly Rs2 billion.

In all previous hearings, the defence counsel had repeatedly maintained before the court that the details of banking transactions of the last ten years had been handed over to the NAB.

However, NAB’s prosecutor had informed the court that according to records of the Paragon Housing Society, an amount of Rs2 billion was transferred to sons of Salman Rafique and Nadeem Zia.

Moreover, the Khawaja brothers are also accused of embezzlement in the scheme by exchanging 50 kanals of their land for 20 two-kanal plots each owned by the Paragon City.

On April 26, the NAB Lahore approved the filing of a reference against the Khawaja brothers and Nadeem Zia for the alleged corruption in the same case. The decision was taken in a regional board meeting that was attended by NAB Lahore’s director general and other directors.

According to the handout, Qaiser Amin Butt, the director of Paragon Housing Society, was also included in the inquiry initiated by the NAB, and he was also arrested in November last year. Later, he agreed to turn approver against the Khawaja brothers and Zia.

Butt and Zia established a company “Air Avenue” in the year 2003; however the name was later changed to Paragon City private (Pvt) Limited.

On Feb 2, the court had rejected a request made by the NAB for another extension in the physical remand of the Khawaja brothers in the case, and sent them on judicial remand.

On December 11, 2018, they were detained by the accountability watchdog after the Lahore High Court (LHC) rejected their bail plea.

The NAB had launched an investigation into the alleged scam in November last year after a number of victims staged protests and held a press conference at the Lahore Press Club against what they termed the housing society’s fraud.

Mustafa Kamal: An accountability court of Karachi decided to indict Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) founder Mustafa Kamal and others on July 27 in a case pertaining to illegal allotment of state-owned lands.

At the outset of the hearing, NAB’s Investigation officer told the Accountability Court that notices were re-sent to all suspects along with copies of the filed reference.

Mustafa Kamal, again, did not appear before the court for hearing.

DG SBCA Iftikhar Qaim Khani filed a plea seeking offering of Hajj.

To this, court recommended him to approach Sindh High Court (SHC) for the purpose and then adjourned hearing of NAB reference till July 27.

In its ruling, the court stated that the accused including PSP founder will be indicted on July 27.