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Land scam: Bahria Town moves court to block probe report

RAWALPINDI: The Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench on Friday issued notices to the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) director-general and investigation officer on a petition filed by a real estate tycoon and his son seeking quashment of criminal proceedings against them in a land scam case.

Justice Saghir Ahmed Qadri directed the Punjab assistant advocate-general (AAG) to submit comments of ACE officials on the petition filed by Bahria Town Chairman Malik Riaz Hussain and his son Ahmed Ali Riaz, on November 14.

The petitioners’ lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan contended that the ACE investigation report on alleged fraud in the purchase of 1,401 kanals was unlawful and should be set aside.

Ahsan maintained that his clients had been cleared by ACE officials in numerous inquiries regarding the purchase of land in the Rawat area in 2008 and 2009. The four-member investigation team has wrongly implicated them by declaring them beneficiaries of a land transfer based on fake identities and forged documents.

Hussain and his son had informed the investigators in writing that they had never been directly involved in the land purchase. Their employees had purchased the land through different property dealers, the lawyer contended.

As soon as they learnt the mutations of land had been made on bogus documents, they approached the Rawat police and had lodged a criminal case against the property dealers and revenue officials.

Contents of the report
In the report, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, the investigators have expressed surprise over the extent of delegation of authority by Malik Riaz Hussain to his subordinates and the claim that he was ignorant of the mutation of land in his name along with transfers attested in his name.

Disagreeing with the statements of Bahria Town chairman and his son, the ACE investigation report says that verbal and documentary evidences establish their involvement in the attempt to deprive residents of Rawat of their property in 2009.

In his statement to the investigators, the Bahria Town chairman said he was not dealing with the private agent and then area revenue clerk (patwari) but at the same time admitted that his company paid Rs85 million to the agent, Ashfaq, and the then-revenue officer, Rizwan Iqbal, the investigators have maintained.

In response to a question that one of the cancelled land mutations was further transferred in the name of Army Welfare Housing Society (AWHS), Malik Riaz said they cancelled the land transfer after they learnt that his society has been defrauded.

In response to another question about dealings between the private housing society and Defence Housing Authority (DHA) he said the deal was confidential and if the investigators wanted to learn more about the deal, they should consult DHA.

On the role of Ahmed Ali Riaz, the investigators declared him one of the beneficiaries, noting that a piece of land was transferred in his name during the period in question, even though the previous owner, Abdul Rehman, was found to have died in 1979.

Two other mutations made in the name of Ahmed Ali Riaz were said to be tampered with, specifically, some dates regarding entry, comparison and attestations.

The investigators also noted that in almost all mutations made in late 2008 and early 2009 in the Malikpur Azizwal Tehsil, government fees were deposited much later than the actual dates of registration of land mutations.

The investigation team has recommended judicial trials of 16 persons including revenue officials and private property dealers for fraudulently selling land belonging to 36 persons whose statements were recorded by the ACE team.

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