Lahore: Malik Riaz, son ‘fugitives’ in land scam case
LAHORE: Real estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain and his son Ahmed Ali Riaz Malik, chief executive officer of Bahria Town, are absconders in a land scam case before the Supreme Court and have been evading arrest since December last year, according to officials. The Anti Corruption Establishment registered a case against Hussain, Malik and four others at its police station in Rawalpindi on November 4, 2009. They were accused of bribing revenue officials to get 1,401 kanals of ‘shamilat’ or community land transferred to their names. The two had obtained interim bail in the case but it expired in December 2011.
Punjab Prosecutor General Sadaqat Ali Khan said that both father and son were “fugitives from the law” and legally could not even give a letter of attorney to a lawyer. To do so, they would first have to surrender or obtain bail, he said.
Asked why they had not been arrested, he said that the police were conducting raids for their arrests. “They must be arrested to complete the challan for court proceedings,” he said.
Nida Zahoor, spokeswoman for Bahria Town, said she had no comment on the subject.
An ACE official said that after an initial inquiry, a case had been registered on November 4, 2009, against five people, including former patwari Muhammad Rizwan, for fraudulently claiming ownership of the land in Malikpur Azizwal tehsil by forging the record, and then transferring the land to other beneficiaries.
The case was registered under Sections 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery) and 471 (using a forged document) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA). On December 12, 2010, Justice Ijaz Ahmed of the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench directed ACE to conduct a more comprehensive inquiry. ACE investigators then found 18 mutations or transfers in the land record including one in favour of Malik Riaz, two for Ali Malik, 11 for Muhammad Iqbal, an employee of Bahria Town, two for Sheikh Sajidur Rehman, and one each for Nasirul Haq and Dildar Hussain.
Bahria Town General Manager Akhtar Saeed told investigators that the land developers had paid Rs50 million to buy the land, the ACE official said, but it was actually worth billions of rupees. Saeed was accused of handing out bribes on Bahria Town’s behalf to Naib Tehsildar Adnan Bashir Kiyani, Girdawar Muhammad Hussain and Girdawar Nazir Hussain to get the land records changed and to skip verification procedures.
On October 12 last year, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry while hearing the bail applications in the land scam case, questioned ACE officials as to whether Malik Riaz Hussain and his son had been arrested. ACE Director General Abid Javed told the court that several raids had been conducted to arrest Hussain and his son, but they had gone underground. He said seven of the total 16 accused had been arrested.
The Home Department, on the ACE director general’s instructions, sent a request to the Interior Ministry to put the names of the accused on the Exit Control List so they could not flee the country. The request was rejected, said ACE officials. Malik Riaz Hussain and his son got interim bail from the Supreme Court in November, but the bail period ended in December 2011.
Ali Malik was also summoned twice by the Supreme Court in the Dr Arsalan Iftikhar case, but did not turn up until his father returned to the country for the hearing last Tuesday. ACE officials said that the two could not have been arrested from the Supreme Court on Tuesday “because there would have been chaos”.