Islamabad: SC assoils ex-chief secretary in corruption case
ISLAMABAD: As reported by The News on Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday acquitted former chief secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Khalid Aziz from corruption charges in an accountability case. A three-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Muhammad Sair Ali, Justice Rahmat Hussain Jafferi and Justice Tariq Parvez was hearing an appeal of Khalid Aziz against an order of the Peshawar High Court, which had reduced his sentence as well as fine, awarded and imposed by the accountability court on the charges of corruption, but had not acquitted him. Appearing on notice, Waseem Sajjad, counsel for Khalid Aziz, submitted that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had not estimated resources of the former secretary before or after filing the reference against him. He contended that in fact his client was innocent but was awarded sentence merely on the basis of unproved allegations and without concrete evidence by the accountability court, thus deserved to be pardoned. The NAB’s Prosecutor Asghar Rana could not prove the allegation against Khalid Aziz and the court exonerated him from all the charges.
On January 17, 2002, an accountability court had indicted Khalid Aziz and two others in a NAB reference. The accused – Khalid Aziz, his wife Neelofar Aziz and a former cashier of the education department, Khadim Hussain – had pleaded not guilty to the charge and had decided to stand trial. Khalid Aziz was charged with using his influence, when he was additional chief secretary, to award a contract of Rs15 million for provision of furniture to the primary education department, to his firm Hayat and Brothers. It was alleged that the accused had provided substandard items to the department and caused a loss to the national exchequer. He was also charged of possessing illegal assets beyond his known source of income.
He was sentenced to four years imprisonment and a fine of Rs50 million by the accountability court. However, the Peshawar High Court had reduced his sentence from four years to two and the fine from Rs50 million to Rs3.8 million. Our Peshawar Bureau adds: Sources close to Khalid Aziz said he finally obtained justice after 11 years of relentless struggle that caused immeasurable pain to him and his wife, six children and friends. Khalid Aziz was arrested by the military on October 14, 1999, just two days after the coup by the Army chief General Pervez Musharraf against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He was then working as Additional Secretary to the Prime Minister on Accountability and was also holding the concurrent charge of the Office of Director General Accountability Bureau since 1998. Prior to that in 1996, he had been the Chief Secretary of NWFP.
Upon his refusal to become an approver against Nawaz Sharif, he was kept in solitary confinement for many months. For three months he was also kept at the Attock Fort. His persecution by General Musharraf’s regime was also criticized by the Human Rights Watch and the British Government, which took up the case of his ill-treatment with Pakistani authorities. In April 2000, a NAB reference was filed against him. In April 2000, a NAB reference was filed against him. It focused on the business accounts of Hayat & Bros, a company with many decades of business history. The reference alleged that Khalid Aziz had misused his authority and accumulated wealth beyond his known sources that were the company account. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment and a fine of Rs50,000. The sentence was completed on April 2, 2001. Before his release, Khalid Aziz was re-arrested in another reference by the NAB. The Peshawar High Court freed him on bail on February 8, 2003. He was finally acquitted in the second reference against him on April 13, 2006 when the court found that he had already faced trial on the same cause once in the first reference. The court found that the second reference violated Article 13 and constituted double jeopardy. During the trial of the second reference against him, former Prosecutor General NAB Farook Adam deposed that references against Khalid Aziz were ordered after the exchange of hot words between him and the Deputy Chairman of NAB Maj Gen Inayatullah Niazi .
The complete article can be found at The News.