ISLAMABAD (January 25, 2011) : The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Monday informed the Supreme Court that Moonis Elahi, son of former Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi had been issued notice in connection with a probe into Rs3.3 billion National Insurance Corporation Limited (NICL) land scam.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry with Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday and Justice Muhammad Sair Ali, was hearing a suo motu case on alleged violation of rules by former NICL Chairman Ayaz Khan Niazi in the procurement of land on highly enhanced rates, causing a huge financial loss to the exchequer.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said that main culprits of the NICL corruption scam must be arrested and given exemplary punishment to eradicate the culture where influential evade the law as a privilege.

He asked the FIA officials to arrest all others big fish involved in the corruption scandal as only one person Ayaz Khan has so far been arrested and the rest are roaming scot-free as nothing has happened.

While addressing the FIA officials, who are thought to be having a soft corner for the accused of influential families, Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday made it clear that nobody will be spared whatever status he enjoys.

“You might be thinking by doing such favours to these influential people, involved in the corruption, you will be rewarded in future…just forget it. I’ll call your service records and quote on it in capital letters that you don’t deserve any promotion or reward,” he warned.

Justice Chaudhry said this was case of large-scale corruption involving over Rs18 billion and the national wealth would be brought back by all means. He said that proper investigation into the scam should be done, all the culprits must be arrested without fear and favour along with seizing the wealth they blundered.

Secretary Commerce Zafar Mehmood told the court that powers to audit the department has been shifted to the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP). The bench directed NICL Chairman Iqbal Puri to have an independent audit of NICL immediately.

The bench also expressed annoyance over transfer of FIA Lahore Chief Zafar Ahmed Qureshi who was investigation officer in the case and asked why he was removed from the case despite excellent performance.

The bench ordered secretary interior Qamar Zaman Chaudhry to immediately restore the officer otherwise the court would revoke their transfer order. “He (Zafar) was doing a wonderful job…what is the logic behind his removal, don’t you want the probe to be held in a transparent manner. Had there been people in FIA like Tariq Khosa, things would not have been like this today,” the bench observed.

The court also directed the authorities concerned to have re-evaluation of NICL land through an independent company. The court was informed that the company of Mohsin Warraich, Messrs Privilege, purchased 803 kanals from the NICL at Mauza Toor, Lahore, for Rs1.68 billion in February in 2010.

The court was also told that NICL sold 20 kanals of land at Lahore Airport Road to Mohsin Warraich for Rs1.7 billion, at the rate of Rs53 million per kanal, causing a loss of Rs915 million to the exchequer, because the market value of the land was much higher. The hearing was adjourned till today (Tuesday).

Business Recorder