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Sunday February 25, 2024

SHC suspends sentence of businessman in illegal coal selling case

March 24, 2023

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) has suspended the sentence awarded to a businessman in the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) reference pertaining to illegal sale of coal reserved for a power plant in the Lakhra coal field.

A former president of the Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry and director of a private textile firm was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment with a fine of Rs500 million by an accountability court for illegally selling coal of the Lakhra mine reserved for the power plant in the open market in 2006 and causing a loss to the national exchequer to the tune of Rs2.5 billion.

A counsel for the appellant submitted that the trial court had failed to appreciate evidence of the case as the appellant was only a nine per cent shareholder of the textile company and there was nothing to suggest that he had any role beyond that of a non-executive director of the company.

He submitted that four of the seven directors had been charged in the case which highlighted blatant pick and choose of NAB.He submitted that other co-accused were already granted bail by the high court during pendency of the appeal and requested the SHC to suspend the sentence of the appellant and release him on bail.

A division bench of the high court headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbassi after hearing the arguments observed that the appellant had made out case for suspension of sentence as there was no likelihood of disposal of appeal on merit keeping in view of large number of cases pending before the bench hearing the NAB cases.

The bench observed that other co-accused in the case were already granted bail by the court in the same reference. The SHC suspended the sentence of the appellant and ordered his release on bail with a surety of Rs1 million during pendency of the appeal.