Co-accused in Haj scam again seeks bail from Islamabad High Court
ISLAMABAD: After failing to get relief from lower and superior judiciary, co-accused in Haj scandal, Aftabul Islam Raja, former joint secretary ministry of religious affairs, has again sought bail from Islamabad High Court (IHC) but this time on different grounds.
In his recent application Raja has moved the bail application under section 497 of Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr Pc) which entitles an accused to bail if he completes one year imprisonment during trial.
Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi of Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday admitted his application for regular hearing and issued notices to federal government and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and adjourned the matter. The registrar office will fix the date for hearing.
Chaudhry Ahmed Khan Gondal, Raja`s laywer adopted before the court that despite the fact that his client has been behind bars for the last one year, the FIA has neither completed inquiry nor submitted challan adding the delay was deliberate to keep his client in the lockup for indefinite period.
He said his client regularly appeared in the court on each date of hearing but the matter could not be proceeded because the other accused were remained absent. It was the duty of the prosecution agency to produce all the accused in the court, he added.
It is a certain principal that one cannot be penalized for a fault committed by someone else and an accused is considered to be innocent till the pronouncement of his conviction, he pointed out.
He contended that there is no likelihood of the trial would be concluded in the near future and his client is entitled to bail under sub section (1) of section 497 of Cr Pc.
He was of the view that since the name of his client was already in Exit Control List (ECL), his passport was with the FIA, he rendered 39 years spotless service, there should be apprehension that he might become an absconder or would temper with the evidence, he maintained.
The FIA arrested Aftabul Islam Raja on December 9, 2010 for his alleged involvement in the Haj corruption case. He was a co-accused with former director general Haj Rao Shakeel Ahmed who in 2010 allegedly hired 87 buildings in Makkah for pilgrims at exorbitant rates and also made advance rent for these buildings up to 50 per cent against the previous practice of 15 per cent for personal gains.
Raja`s first bail plea was rejected on February 2, 2011 by special court of Rawalpindi, second by IHC on April 4, 2011, third by the Supreme Court on August 8, 2011 and the special court again dismissed his fourth bail application on January 1, 2012.