RAWALPINDI, Dec 26: Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench on Monday restrained the National Accountability Bureau from taking over the record of a land fraud case in which a property tycoon and his son are allegedly involved.
A division bench, comprising Justice Mohammad Khalid Mehmood Khan and Justice Mohammad Anwaarul Haq, issued the order after admitting for regular hearing a petition filed by the Anti-Corruption Establishment which is seized with the case.
The land case is based on two FIRs registered against Malik Riaz Hussain and his son Ali Riaz, the owners of Bahria Town, for acquiring 1,401 kanals of land near Rawat allegedly on fake and forged documents.
The counsel for the government of Punjab expressed apprehensions that NAB working under the federal government could exonerate the tycoon.
Additional Advocate General (Punjab) Sadaqat Ali Khan informed the court that NAB had issued illegal transfer orders of the case. Malik Riaz did not raise any objections to ACE jurisdiction in the first two inquiries, he said, adding now he was trying to transfer the case to get himself cleared from NAB.
The counsel said Malik Riaz and his son were granted interim bail by the Supreme Court on November 18 for three weeks and directed to appear in the trial court to face the allegations.
However, the accused approached NAB through the federal government, he added.
Mr Khan while talking to Dawn said in an inquiry conducted after the directions of the Supreme Court, the ACE had found the owners of Bahria Town guilty and issued their arrest warrants.
He said when Malik Riaz Hussain approached the LHC for quashment of his arrest warrants the court directed him to appear for his defence.
However, the NAB chairman on November 21 tried to rescue him and issued a notification directing the ACE to transfer the case and record to the bureau.
He said NAB had no jurisdiction over ACE as it was an independent anti-corruption department of the province.
However, Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan and Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, the counsel for the accused, said NAB had the jurisdiction to take over corruption cases in Punjab.
They said their clients had not been found guilty in the inquiries and they were also victims of the land scam, adding their clients had paid Rs85 million to purchase the land but after finding the documents fake they also registered an FIR against the property dealer and the revenue staff.
It may be noted that the LHC on December 19 had also issued a stay order after NAB directed the ACE officials to appear before its authorities and hand over the record to them.