Land fraud case: Court validates ACE’s inquiry

RAWALPINDI, September 19: A division bench of Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi on Wednesday set aside the letters of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), regarding the transfer of the 1,401 land fraud case, in which property tycoon Malik Riaz and his son Ali Riaz are also involved.

LHC bench comprising Justice Shahid Hameed Dar and Justice Maqbool Ahmed Bajwa announced the judgment on the petition of Anti Corruption Establishment (ACE) against the transfer of said land fraud case from ACE to NAB.

The court observed that there were a number of anomalies in the NAB letters of November 21 and 22 last year, in which it directed the ACE for the transfer of case and relevant record to the NAB officials.

NAB initiated the process for transferring the investigation and record from ACE to NAB in a hasty manner, it added.

LHC bench validated the ACE inquiry in which it implicated Malik Riaz, his son Ali Riaz as well as 14 other persons.

The court order observed that the last revised report of the inquiry was prepared by senior most ACE official, under the directions of the LHC and the Supreme Court and there is no need to probe the matter afresh.

The bench, however, ordered the trial court to decide the application of chairman NAB in which he requested transfer of the case from Anti
Corruption Court to Accountability Court.

The court directed the registrar office to send the sealed record of the case to ACC for its onward proceeding.

During the hearing, Prosecutor general (PG) Punjab, Sadaqat Ali Khan, representing ACE said  the establishment in the earlier inquiries exonerated the property tycoon, his son and senior officials of Bahria Town but the Supreme Court, who during hearing the bail petition of one of the accused persons pointed out that the establishment had exonerated the influential beneficiaries and booked the less important persons in the case.

He said the director general ACE then on the directions of the apex court constituted a four-member team to investigate the matter and the team submitted the report to the Supreme Court in September 2011, in which they nominated Malik Riaz, his son Ali Riaz as well as other 14 influential persons, as accused in the land fraud case.

According to him, governor Punjab Sardar Latif Khan Khosa ordered for the suspension of the inquiry but the Punjab government refused to do so and meanwhile, an Anti Corruption Court (ACC) of Rawalpindi in October last year issued arrest warrants for tycoon, his son and other accused persons.

PG Khan said that Malik Riaz filed a petition in the LHC to quash the inquiry but when the court summoned him to appear in person, he filed an application in the Supreme Court.

The apex court while granting him interim bail, directed him to appear before the trial court but he did not appear and also withdrew the petition from the LHC, he added.

In the meanwhile, Khan added, the incumbent chairman NAB admiral (retired) Fasih Bokhari took charge of his office and issued the order for the transfer of the case, even without completing necessary formalities.

Prosecutor general NAB, K. K. Agha on the other hand denied the allegation levelled against the chairman by the PG Punjab.He said the bureau found the land fraud case pertinent for transfer because the revenue officials apparently misused their authorities and for the large scale corruption in this scam.

Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, the counsel for Malik Riaz, told the court that his client was a victim, not a beneficiary of the land fraud case.

He said some private persons had taken Rs150 million from his client for the land but they transferred it to Bahria Town on forged documents.