Rawalpindi: Court rejects bail plea of three in land scam
RAWALPINDI: Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi bench on Thursday rejected the bail plea of three accused allegedly involved in transferring 1,401 kanals land to the property tycoon and his son on fake documents. The LHC division bench comprising Justice Rauf Ahmed Shaikh and Justice Shahid Hameed Dar, however, granted the bail to two other accused – Nazir Hussain and Mohammad Hussain – revenue official in government of Punjab in the same case on Rs0.2 million surety bonds each.
Others, whose bail applications were rejected, included Adnan Kiyani, a naib Tehsildar; Rizwan, a patwari and Tanveer, an identifier of the Punjab revenue department.
Sadaqat Ali Khan, prosecutor general Punjab representing Anti–Corruption Establishment (ACE) and Punjab government adopted before the court that the three accused who allegedly transferred land to the property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain and his son Ahmed Ali Riaz were the custodian of the public property but they transferred the land of widows and poor people to the land mafia.
He said being public functionaries their involvement in such a heinous crime is unpardonable adding that revenue officials who transferred the land to the property tycoon were equally responsible in the land fraud case.
Advocate Khan, however, did not oppose the grant of bail to revenue officials, Nazir and Mohammad Hussain, as according to him, they only had knowledge of the crime and did not share it with the investigation team at an appropriate time.
Advocate Basharatullah Khan and Imran Nazir, the defence counsels, on the other hand contended that the beneficiaries of the land fraud case were sitting in their homes in a comfortable environment because of their connections but the government officials, allegedly involved in the scam, had been put behind the bars for the last several months.
They said the land is not in the custody of the detained revenue officials but in the possession of someone else and therefore, they cannot be kept detained for indefinite period and might be released on bail.
It may be pertinent to mention that the land fraud case is based on two FIRs registered by the ACE in November 2009, against the Bahria Town administration including its and his son, for acquiring 1,401 kanals of land in Malikpur, Azizwal near Rawat, on fake identities and forged documents.
The accused were declared innocent in two separate inquiries initiated by ACE Punjab in 2009; however, a third inquiry initiated under the directions of the Supreme Court in 2011 found them guilty, following which they raised objections over the jurisdiction of the ACE investigators, and wanted NAB to take over the case.
ACE–Punjab claimed there were no legal grounds to transfer the case as the accused did not raise any objections over its jurisdiction in the first two inquiries and were only trying to clear themselves through the NAB. The NAB in November 2011, wrote a letter to the ACE–Punjab and directed them to handover the record of the case to it, the ACE, however, approached the LHC in December, 2011 and the case was still pending in the court.
In their defence, Bahria Town’s management have stated they were the victims not the culprits in the case as they had paid Rs85 million to purchase the land. They also registered a criminal case in 2010 against the property dealer and the revenue staff after they learnt that the land mutations were made on fake documents.