Karachi: PPP leader acquitted in two graft cases
KARACHI: An accountability court acquitted on Monday the Pakistan People’s Party’s designated parliamentary leader in the Sindh Assembly, Pir Mazharul Haq, in two corruption references due to a lack of evidence against him.
The judge, Syed Aley Maqbool Rizvi, of the Accountability Court-I announced the verdict after recording final arguments from both sides on an application moved by the defence counsel under Section 265-K of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) pleading for the acquittal of his client.
Crucially, the acquittal was granted under Section 265-K of the criminal procedure code – which empowers the court to acquit an accused at any stage – and not under the much-maligned National Reconciliation Ordinance.
The judge said in his verdict that, after examining the case, he found no evidence which might connect the applicant with the alleged offence and that since there was no probability of conviction, he allowed the application and acquitted Pir Mazharul Haq.
Interestingly, the special public prosecutor did not oppose the acquittal plea.
In 2001, the National Accountability Bureau (Sindh) filed two references against former provincial minister Pir Mazharul Haq.
In the first reference (4101), filed on the directives of the anti-corruption establishment, an inquiry was conducted on Jan 1, 1997 with regards to the allotment of amenity plots of the then Karachi Development Authority (KDA).
The inquiry report said that challans for payments were issued in favour of Zulfiqar Ali, Riaz Mohammad and Mansoor for the allotment of plots No 18, 181 and 182 measuring 4,840 square yards each in Scheme- 36, Gulistan-i-Jauhar.
Each challan was allegedly fraudulently issued against an amount of Rs2,420,000 with the involvement of KDA officials and the collusion of the said private persons, thus causing losses worth millions of rupees to the KDA.
The report also said that the plots were converted in violation of the KDA rules and the existing policy, challans were revalidated, regularisation letters, site plans and letters for the possession of the plots were issued.
The case (FIR No 07/1997) was registered under Sections 420, 467, 471, 409, 120-B and 16134 of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1947 at the FIA police station.
The second reference (4301) pertained to an 8,000-square-yard amenity plot in Gulistan-i-Jauhar. The plot was reserved for a park, but the officials concerned had illegally allotted the plot to Zulfiqar Ali. Four KDA officials were nominated in the FIR.
The case (FIR No 71997) was registered under Sections 420, 467, 471, 409, 120-B and 16134 of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 5(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act 1947 at the FIA police station.
The then provincial minister for housing and town planning, Pir Mazharul Haq, was not initially nominated in both the FIRs. However, his name was added to the final charge-sheets when they were submitted by the relevant investigation officer to an anti-corruption court.
The cases were subsequently transferred to an accountability court.
The former provincial minister left the country for the United Kingdom in 1997. In his absence, the co-accused in the both the cases were acquitted and he was declared an absconder. Upon his return to the country in the winter of 2003, he moved the Sindh High Court for bail, which was granted in 2004.
The defence counsel, Shahadat Awan, submitted that the charges against his client were politically motivated. He argued that as the charges framed in his client’s absence could not be proved therefore there was no likelihood that the accused would be convicted for the alleged offence. He said that the applicant was “on a better footing than the acquitted co-accused as he was not nominated in the FIRs”.
The defence counsel further submitted that the accountability court judgments dated Dec 12, 2001 and Jan 1, 2002 passed in these references indicated that no case was made against any official and no violation of any rules had taken place. He said that there was absolutely no evidence which might connect the applicant with the alleged offences.
Mr Awan concluded that from the material on record and evidence recorded by this court no offence as charged under Section 9 (a) (IV) (V) of the NAB Ordinance, 1999 could be made out and pleaded for the acquittal of his client.
The complete article can be found at Dawn News.