The Supreme Court on Friday directed the concerned authorities to register cases against the recently-appointed chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Qamar Zaman Chaudhry and others for creating hurdles in the probe of a multi-billion rupee scam in National Insurance Company Limited (NICL).
The court ordered that proceedings should be initiated against former commerce minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, former commerce secretary Salman Ghani and the federal tax ombudsman whereas it also declared the appointment of Ayaz Khan Niazi as Chairman of the NICL illegal.
A three-member bench of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry announced its 52-page reserved verdict in a suo motu action regarding the violation of Public Procurement Rules, 2004 in the procurement of land on inflated rates by the NICL.
Authoring the judgement, the Chief Justice Chaudhry ruled that matter in hand involves issues of corruption and white-collar crime which was brought to the notice of the court by Transparency International Pakistan. The TI Pakistan highlighted violations of Public Procurement Rules, 2004 (PPRA Rules) in the procurement of properties in its letter of May 06, 2010.
“These violations have allegedly caused losses worth billions of rupees in the span of only six months after the appointment of Ayaz Khan Niazi as Chairman on December 12,2009 of the NICL, which is a public enterprise,” the verdict said.
The Court observed that the appointment of Ayaz Khan Niazi was contrary to section 12 of the Insurance Ordinance, 2000 and Rules framed thereunder, as non-transparent, illegal and unwarranted.
“Thus, except one of the officers (Tariq Zubair Khan, Section Officer), all others ie Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, the then Additional Secretary; Suleman Ghani the then Secretary Commerce; Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the then Commerce Minister; Ismail Qureshi, the then Secretary Establishment; and Ms. Nargis Sethi, the then Acting Principal Secretary to Prime Minister are involved in his appointment and, prima facie, are liable to be dealt with under section 9(a)(vi) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 [as amended by National Accountability Bureau (Amendment) Ordinance, 2002] on account of NICL scam pertaining to Punjab (Lahore) and Sindh (Karachi) where allegedly offences of corruption and corrupt practices have been committed,” the judgement said.
The verdict ruled that the notification of April 18, 2012 for transferring Zafar Ahmed Qureshi, Director FIA, prima facie, also involves Malik Muhammad Iqbal, former DG, FIA; Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, former Secretary Interior, Abdul Rauf Chaudhry, former Secretary Establishment Division and Khushood Akhtar Lashari, former Principal Secretary to Prime Minister as well as Waqar Haider, the then Director FIA, Lahore saying as they created hurdles and hampered the smooth and transparent investigation entrusted to Zafar Ahmed Qureshi in NICL scam, pertaining to Lahore.
“Thus, prima facie, they are also required to be dealt with under section 9(a)(vi) of NAO, 1999 as they wrongly exercised their authority to benefit Ayaz Khan Niazi and others from public money, which has been looted through non-transparent transactions from NICL,” the verdict maintained.
The court noted, “on account of transfer of Zafar Ahmed Qureshi an amount of Rs 420 million due against Mohsin Habib Warraich and others could not be recovered….Likewise, another huge amount has been deposited by the accused persons in the bank account of Moonis Elahi with EFG Private Bank Ltd, London having a balance of £1.138 million, in the name of a company owned by him and another account in the name of Beenish Khan (the wife of Mohsin Habib Warraich) in Barclays Bank London having a balance of £0.102 million, had not been recovered”.
The court ruled that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) after the transfer of Zafar Ahmed Qureshi failed to retrieve the outstanding amounts which were frozen, but were illegally activated without following the procedure, during the period he remained disassociated from the investigation of the case from March 19, 2011 to August 13, 2011.
The court directed through the verdict to Chairman NAB to have all these cases transferred to his file and proceed in accordance with law, take necessary steps to effect the recovery of outstanding amount noted above and also effect the arrest of Mohsin Habib Warraich, Amin Qasim Dada, Khalid Anwar, etc, as early as possible.
“Qamar Zaman Chaudhry and Abdul Rauf Chaudhry have been found liable for contempt of Court vide order June 16, 2012,” the court ruled adding that the plea put forward in reply to show-cause notices under section 17(1) of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 read with Article 204 of the Constitution, are hereby turned down and proceedings are postponed to frame charges against them, for a date to be fixed by the office.
The court further ruled that Khushnood Akhtar Lashari, though filed a reply to a show cause notice for contempt of Court but had not appeared in Court; therefore, proceedings against him be kept pending and process be repeated against him to appear in the Court.
After disposing of a suo motu case along with miscellaneous applications the court adjourned Criminal Original Petition No.50 of 2011 against Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, Abdul Rauf Chaudhry and Khushnood Akhtar Lashari.
Meanwhile, the court ruled that the cases of contempt of Court against Senator A. Rehman Malik and others are delinked and ordered to be fixed along with the cases of all other contemnors, including contempt of Court against Malik Muhammad Iqbal, Ex. DG, FIA as in his case judgement was reserved. The court ruled that as one of the members of the Bench has retired, therefore, the matter of A. Rehman Malik and others would also to be heard afresh.
Author: Khudayar Mohla
Source: Business Recorder