NAB prepares to challenge Mir Shakeel acquittal

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday prepared a draft to challenge acquittal of Jang/Geo media group owner Mir Shakilur Rehman and two others in a reference of 34-year-old illegal land allotment, contending that the “accountability court did not apply judicial mind in this case”.

The NAB will challenge the acquittal in the high court this month.

An accountability court had on Monday acquitted the Jang group editor-in-chief and Lahore Development Authority’s former director general Humayon Faiz Rasool and director of land development department Mian Bashir Ahmad in this case.

According to the proposed draft, the NAB has contended that ‘important prosecution witnesses’ are yet to be examined by the court. “Case cannot be decided on merits unless prosecution is afforded an equal opportunity to present its point of view before the court through examination of witnesses and record.”

‘Important prosecution witnesses not examined’

“The court, actually, did not apply judicial mind and fell in error. The NAB case was not relating to the payment of reserve price instead of market price. Public utility like allotment of roads can be termed as an abuse of power, like can anyone wish to buy Mall Road by offering competitive market price of road?,” it says.

“The court made a factual mistake by assuming Mir Shakilur Rehman as abettor. As a matter of fact, he was the beneficiary in the case. He was the illegal beneficiary in the case whereas the court has omitted this fact in its judgment,” it says.

The draft further says the court did not appreciate the entire record placed before it. “As per record attached with the reference, the Price Assessment Committee (PAC) was headed /convened by the additional director general and four directors of various departments of LDA. Moreover, there is no legal hindrance on the constitution of PAC on the directions of NAB. Thus, the observation of the court is against the facts.”

It says NAB filed the reference against the accused persons on their involvement in the offence. “No active role against other LDA officers was found during the investigation. Hence no other DG/director was arraigned as accused. The summary mentioned about the inclusion of two streets in the allotment to accused Mir Shakeelur Rehman the court has not recorded prime witness –Syed Javed Iqbal, then secretary to the chief minister and decided the case arbitrarily. Besides, no powers u/s 14 of LDA 1975 were exercised rather the illegal summary sent to the CM mentioned that ‘this proposal may be treated as a special case, not to be quoted as a precedent’. NAB case was not merely based on violation of exemption policy, rather it was grant and rendition of undue benefit to accused Rehman by other accused persons/public office holders at the cost of state exchequer by misusing their authority for the personal benefit of him (Shakilur Rehman).”

The NAB draft further contends “ill intention cannot be gauged before completion of the trial. The material witnesses of NAB were yet to be recorded.”

The NAB alleged that Mr Rehman illegally obtained exemption of 54 plots, each measuring one-kanal, situated in Block-H, Johar Town Lahore in connivance with then Punjab chief minister Nawaz Sharif.

The NAB had arrested Mr Rehman in March 2020. The Supreme Court granted him bail in November 2020.

PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif has been declared proclaimed offender in this case for his constant non-appearance before the court.

Source: Dawn

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