RAWALPINDI: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has been asked to respond to the allegations levelled against it by Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Punjab in a land scam case involving owners of Bahria Town.

Justice Sagheer Ahmed Qadri and Justice Mazhar Iqbal Sindu of the Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi bench on Thursday issued notices to the NAB chairperson, additional director NAB Rawalpindi and all accused in the case to respond till December 22.

In its earlier petition, ACE Punjab alleged that NAB’s intentions for taking over the case are mala fide as the bureau intends to absolve all the accused by providing them a friendly prosecution.

The land scam case is based on two FIRs registered against the Bahria Town administration, including the owner Malik Riaz and his son Ahmed Ali Riaz, 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; however, a third inquiry (initiated under the supervision of the Supreme Court) found them guilty, following which they raised objections over the jurisdiction of ACE investigators, wanting NAB to take over the case.

ACE Punjab claims there are no legal grounds to transfer the case as the accused did not raise any objections over its jurisdiction in the first two inquiries and are only trying to absolve themselves through a friendly prosecution by NAB. The anti-corruption body had also stated that Malik Riaz and Ali Riaz, the two main accused, obtained interim bails from the Supreme Court on November 18 for three weeks and are yet to submit their surety bonds with the trial court. They got bail after investigators obtained warrants for their arrest.

In their defence, Bahria Town’s management have stated that they are the victims in the case and not the culprits as they as they paid Rs85 million to purchase the land. They also registered criminal case against the property dealer and the revenue staff after they learnt that the land mutations were made on fake documents.

Earlier, the NAB chaireperson had asked Director ACE Rawalpindi to transfer all record in the case to the bureau and in a separate application, he also requested the trial court to transfer the case to the accountability court in Rawalpindi.