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Old Sunday, December 23, 2007
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Default Accountability courts: The year 2007 — favoured politicians, not officials

Accountability courts: The year 2007 — favoured politicians, not officials


Staff Report

LAHORE: The year 2007 proved to be a favourable year for under trial politicians in accountability courts as most of them were acquitted of corruption charges. However, the year was discouraging for the government officials as only Abdul Salam, a lower division clerk in Faisalabad Passport Office, was lucky among them who was acquitted of the charges of getting a Rs 500 bribe.

Among the politicians, three members of the Vario family from Sialkot were acquitted. They were former federal minister Akhtar Vario, his brother, also a former federal minister Abdul Sattar Vario, and his son former provincial minister Khush Akhtar Subhani, as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) could prove nothing against them.

Former Punjab education minister Riaz Fatyana was acquitted of the charges of illegal plot allotment.

Among the former government officials, former land acquisition collector Amjad Hussain Sandal was charged in four cases.

Akhtar Vario The NAB had accused Akhtar Vario of acquiring 1,167 kanals of agriculture land in Sialkot and Gujrat districts, shares in Top Links Sports Factory, a bungalow worth Rs 50 million in Sialkot, shares in Grace Hotel, Lahore, and shares in a shop at Ghalla Mandi Sialkot worth Rs 1,000,000. Vario purchased a car in 1998 for Rs 779,000, and a house in Attaturk Block, New Garden Town, Lahore, measuring one kanal. According to the NAB, he constructed a farmhouse in Kala Harawan village from the money sanctioned for the construction of a community centre. As a Sialkot District Council chairman in 1985-86, Vario caused a loss of Rs 1.07 million to the district council by granting rebate in export tax, the NAB said. He was also accused of wrong declaration of his assets in income tax/wealth tax returns and before the Election Commission. He never filed any tax return before 1994-95. He had also been accused of significant transactions in US dollars. Vario held public offices from 1979 to 1987. He remained a Sialkot District Council chairman, a Punjab Assembly member, a Punjab minister and an MNA. Akhtar Vario had been declared absconder and was sentenced to three years imprisonment after his trial in absentia when he disappeared after issuance of arrest warrants against him in 2000. He was arrested on January 28, 2003, when he had come to hospital to attend his ailing son Subhani. Later, the Lahore High Court granted him bail on May 28, 2003 on medical grounds. On January 27, 2007 his son, former provincial minister, and former PML-Q MPA Khush Akhtar Subhani was acquitted of an illegal assets reference. The NAB could not prove allegations against him.

Sattar Vario The NAB had also failed to prove charges against him. Vario was accused of abusing his authority while holding a public office from 1988 to 1996. The NAB alleged that his assets were disproportionate to his income. Vario invested Rs 9.66 million in Unis Pak Rubber Industry in Sialkot by taking shares in his own name as well as in the name of his sons Armaghan Subhani, Manzoor Subhani, Amar Sattar in 1996. It was alleged that he invested Rs 7 million in Mispaah International in 1996 and partnership deed was executed between Knawar Naseem Khan and his son Manzoor Subhani. He allegedly purchased agricultural land measuring 596 kanals and eight marlas in Vario village in Sialkot district.

Khush Akhtar Subhani Subhani, who served as provincial minister for health and physical planning, held various other public offices between 1988 and 1996. The NAB had accused him of corruption and acquisition of assets worth millions of rupees, which could not be accounted for by his known income.

Passport clerk Abdul Salam, a lower division clerk in Faisalabad Passport Office, was acquitted of a bribery case as the court gave him the benefit of doubt.

Riaz Fatyana The court rejected the NAB allegation on June 20, 2007 by holding that the former minister did not get the allotted the plot in question through corrupt or illegal means. The court further observed that the accused was exempted from filling of affidavit that he owned no other plot in any urban area of Punjab, vide a directive of the chief minister and it was not on the record that the accused got the exemption letter from the CM by misusing his authority. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) accused Fatyana of illegally obtaining a one kanal plot in Johar Town from the chief minister’s discretionary quota after submitting a false affidavit when he was a provincial education minister in 1990. The plot was originally allotted to one Manzoor and then it was transferred to Fatyana. Fatyana was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and fined Rs 1 million, but the Lahore High Court (LHC) had set aside his conviction on November 17, 2005, and sent his case to the accountability court for retrial.



Others acquitted of charges:

Hashim Babar Hashim Babar, former Military Lands and Cantonment Board director, was accused of allotting a piece of land near Ayub National Park to Hakim Ali Zardari, former Public Accounts Committee chairman and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s father-in-law, and his wife Dr Zareen Ara Zardari. Mrs and Mr Zardari had also moved acquittal application before the Lahore High Court. Initially Babar was prosecuted by the then Chief Ehtesab Commissioner on March 13, 1997, and Mr and Mrs Zardari were introduced as the accused in July 2001 after the reference was re-investigated by the Federal Investigation Agency. The National Accountability Bureau alleged that the Cantonment Board declined permission for the installation of a petrol pump for security reasons, but Babar favoured them (Mr and Mrs Zardari) by accepting their appeal on September 22, 1994. The NAB says Babar abused his powers by allowing the petrol pump on the government land. The petrol pump was never built.

Colonel (r) Iftikhar Awan Colonel (r) Awan was acquitted of a misappropriation case on May 18, 2007. His wife Sattara Jabeen was sentenced to eleven month rigorous imprisonment. She was also sentenced to a Rs 5.3 million fine or in default three-year imprisonment. The court also disqualified her from participating in elections, holding public office or obtaining loans from financial institutions for ten years. The court, according to 382-B CrPC, announced that the period she had spent in jail while under trial would be counted in her sentence. Sattara Jabeen and Iftikhar were accused of defaulting on millions in loans from the now defunct Services Credit Corporation.

Abdul Majeed The court had acquitted former National Industrial Corporation Finance Corporation (NICFC) executive director Chaudhry Abdul Majeed on February 8, 2007, by giving him the benefit of the doubt in a co-operative fraud case. His co-accused former MPA Hakim Ali had already been discharged after an out-of-court settlement with the NAB. According to the prosecution, Hakim Ali, in connivance with former NICFC president Tajammal Hussain (not on trial), and Abdul Majeed, obtained monetary advantages and caused heavy financial losses to the corporation. Hakim Ali and others were accused of misappropriating Rs 124.5 million from NICFC funds through accounts in different NICFC branches.

Nizami Motors A court acquitted Nizami Motors’ owners Muhammad Ijaz, Muhammad Aftab and Bulend Iqbal Latif on April 10, 2007 of fraud cases. According to the NAB, 23 people paid the company Rs 10.5 million for cars, but they were neither given the cars nor returned the money.

Imdad Hussain Former assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Imdad Hussain was acquitted of corruption charges on December 12, 2007. According to the NAB, Imdad Hussain arrested Mohsan Raza in a mobile phone theft case, but did not record his arrest. The ASI demanded Rs 10,000 from Mohsan’s brother Ahsan Raza, and they agreed on Rs 5,000. However, an NAB team raided and caught Imdad red handed while he was receiving a Rs 5,000 bribe from Ahsan Raza.



The case were dropped against:

Farooq Saeed Khan Former Punjab Assembly member from Samundri Farooq Saeed was released on January 7, 2007. The NAB had requested that the case be closed since the allegations against him could not be proved. Saeed was accused of having illegal assets.



Sentences:

PARCO Amjad Sandal was sentenced to seven years imprisonment on April 6, 2007 for fraud. The court also fined Sandal Rs 2 million. The court also disqualified him from participating in elections, holding a public office or obtaining loans from financial institutions for 10 years. The court acquitted his co-accused Farid Bakhsh, a patwari. Sandal had already been convicted in three references. Sandal was accused of embezzling Rs 6.7 million from the Pak Arab Refinery Company (PARCO). Another co-accused Rasheed Ahmad was released after an out-of-court settlement with the NAB on November 14, 2005. Rasheed had paid Rs 690,000 to the NAB to secure his release. Sandal was sentenced to five years imprisonment and a Rs 10 fine on July 6 in a reference against him. The court also ordered confiscation of his (Sandal’s) property. The court acquitted another accused Muhammad Sarwar giving him the benefit of doubt. According to prosecution, Sandal and his co-accused; Muhammad Sarwar, Abdul Rehman, Aqeel Haider, Mehrullah and Muhammad Ilyas allegedly caused a loss of more than Rs 11.952 million to the National Highway Authority (NHA) by issuing 41 bearers cheques of large amounts to various people against fake land claims. On October 30, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment for fraud. The court also fined him (Sandal) Rs 7 million. The court disqualified him from participating in elections, holding a public office or obtaining loans from financial institutions for 10 years. There were four accused in reference. One Abdul Razzaq died during the trial and two others Aslam Javaid and Maratab Ali Shah were absconders.

National Bank Cashier Muhammad Ashraf was sentenced to five years imprisonment and a Rs 5.79 million fined for fraud. The court gave him the benefit of Section 382 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) under which his period in jail during the trial would be included in his jail term. The court also said the convict would be disqualified from holding any public office for 10 years. According to prosecution, Ashraf and his co-accused Abdul Rehman had defaulted on a Rs 5.79 million bank loan. Abdul Rehman, a former Education Department official, has died.

Mirza Zubair Baig Abid Hussain Baig, a former employee of the Punjab Workers’ Welfare Fund, was sentenced to four years imprisonment and a Rs 3.61 million fine on September 21, 2007 on charge of embezzling Rs 3.6 million. The court also disqualified him from participating in elections, holding public office or obtaining loans from financial institutions for ten years. The court, according to 382-B CrPC, announced that the period he had spent in jail while under trial would be counted in his sentence. The court acquitted Mirza Zubair Baig, Abid Hussain Baig’s son.

Treasury officials Treasury official Mumshad Nadeem was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment on August 7, 2007 with a total fine of Rs 87.15 million in three references. The court also sentenced his four accomplices, also treasury officials, Muhammad Amanullah, Muhammad Ishaq, Muhammad Arif Jan and Sheikh Javed Hassan to a total 12 years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50,000 each. Nadeem was sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment on misappropriation charges, four years of rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs 50,000 on charges of preparing and using forged documents and another four years of rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs 29 million for making counterfeit seals to be used for forgery. The court ordered the authorities concerned to recover the fine as land revenue. The court also disqualified Nadeem from participating in elections, holding public office or obtaining loans from financial institutions for 10 years. According to the NAB, the accused had been in the treasury office of Lahore from 1996 to 2002 in which they had prepared forged papers of 161 cases and had misappropriated Rs 60.5 million from the national exchequer through false pension claims.

Abdul Ghaffar A former Old Age Benefit Institution employee Abdul Ghaffar Gill was sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment An on July 18, 2007, and fined him Rs 50,000 on corruption charges. The court also disqualified Gill from participating in elections, holding public office or obtaining loans from financial institutions for ten years.

Imtiaz Ahmad The Board of Revenue naib qasid Imtiaz Ahmad was the least lucky as he was sentenced to two years imprisonment on December 12 with a Rs 20,000 fine in a reference against him on the charges of taking a bribe. The accused was caught red handed by an NAB team on July 17, 2007 when he was taking a Rs 10,000 bribe from Muhammad Ismail.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default...12-2007_pg7_14
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