Sepco official acquitted of bank fraud for want of evidence

By Our Correspondent
December 06, 2022

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday set aside the conviction of a Sukkur Electric Power Company (Sepco) official in a bank fraud case because the prosecution failed to prove the charges.

Abu Bakar Sheikh had been sentenced to seven years in prison by a special court for banking offences on charges of embezzlement of Rs4,380,062 in the Sepco employees welfare funds. According to the prosecution, millions of rupees in group insurance and worker welfare funds of Sepco employees was misappropriated, as the amount deducted from the employees’ monthly salaries was not sent by Sepco officials and bank officers to the Water and Power Development Authority budget and accounts officer (funds), so a case was registered against the appellant.

The appellant’s counsel said his client had nothing to do with cheques, and no case of entrustment had been made out against him from the oral or documentary evidence to bring a case against him.

He said CCTV camera footage was inadmissible in evidence as it did not show him encashing the cheques in question. He added that the appellant was at the bank because he had his own account there, so the appellant should be acquitted of the charges by being extended the benefit of the doubt.

The deputy attorney general said the evidence of the prosecution witness shows the appellant had forged the signatures on the cheques in question, which was supported by the CCTV camera footage of him at the bank, so the prosecution had proved its case against the appellant beyond any reasonable doubt.

After hearing the arguments and perusing the evidence, an SHC division bench comprising Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha and Justice Arshad Hussain Khan said it appeared that the appellant had nothing to do with writing the cheques, which was done by the drawing & disbursing officer and the accountant, so it could not be said that any money or property was entrusted to the appellant.

The court said the other co-accused, who included bankers working at the branch and accountants working in Sepco’s accounts office who had more if not equal involvement in the offences so charged, were all acquitted.

The bench said the prosecution had failed to prove the charges against the appellant because it did not link the appellant to encashing a particular cheque that formed the subject matter of the case. The SHC set aside the trial court’s judgment, ordering that the appellant be released if not required in other cases.