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March 21, 2017

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IHC acquits Kazmi, two others in Haj scam

IHC acquits Kazmi, two others in Haj scam

ISLAMABAD: Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) here on Monday while allowing appeals of the former Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Hamid Kazmi, former DG Haj Rao Shakeel and former Joint Secretary Ministry of Religious Affairs Aftabul Islam Raja absolved all the three from corruption charges in the Haj corruption scandal.

A court of special judge central (SJC) on June 3, 2016 had awarded Kazmi six years imprisonment with a fine of Rs147.396 million. The other two accused were also awarded almost similar jail terms and fines.

The IHC bench through a short order allowed appeals of the three accused persons against the SJC orders while citing lack of evidence. The detailed judgment is yet to come. This case was remanded back to the IHC by the apex Supreme Court of Pakistan directing IHC to conclude the matter after day-to-day hearing.

Petitioner Kazmi had adopted in his appeal that none of the prosecution witnesses has insinuated him with any malfeasance and his conviction is based on fanciful, arbitrary, capricious and absolutely conjectural hypothesis.

That according to the prosecution’s own version, the appellant (Kazmi) being minister had a supervisory role in making arrangements for the haj pilgrims but nothing to do with the hiring of buildings and making payments of rents to the building owners yet the trial court proceeded to hold the appellant guilty. The petitioner said that the conclusion of trial court was based on suppositions and a consequence of misreading or non-reading of the facts. The rent payment of the under construction building was contingent upon completion and rent amount was retrieved through cheques and no embezzlement of funds had taken place.

The petitioner had further contended that this is a case of no evidence and sentence by the trial court is violation of his fundamental rights. Not a single prosecution witness uttered any word against the petitioner regarding kickbacks or commission and there is no such evidence on record to prove this offence, the petitioner had said.

The role of hiring buildings for pilgrims was to be performed by a 7 members committee and the petitioner had no role whatsoever. The petitioner’s name was not in the FIR but he was implicated due to political rivalry. That learned trial court while convicting the petitioner seemed to be influenced by the media trial, petitioner had said.

Kazmi's legal counsel Sardar Latif Khosa while arguing this matter on different dates of hearing had argued that his client has been punished for his supervisory role. This fits into a context that a clerk of a prime minister house if commits a mistake, you would punish the prime minister. My client was not involved in hiring buildings and there were no allegations against him for kickbacks. In fact Saudi government had returned Saudi Riyal 6.65 million to the pilgrims due to the efforts of his client.

From prosecution side FIA on different dates of hearing had argued that Hamid Saeed Kazmi had been on a visit to Saudi Arabia where he examined the arrangements. The court of special judge central found him guilty on the account of approving under construction buildings without washrooms and that too in connivance with his front man, Ahmed Faiz. FIA prosecutor had also submitted Kazmi photos with Ahmed Faiz in Saudi Arabia.

Prosecution had told the court that Kazmi inflicted a loss of Rs1.0888 billion on the treasury. Saudi government after becoming aware of the situation itself returned Rs5,000 to Pakistani pilgrims and Kazmi had no role in it, FIA prosecutor had also said.

The other two accused Aftabul Islam and Rao Shakeel had also been awarded similar sentence by the SJC that IHC bench today set aside. Legal counsel for Hamid Saeed Kazmi, Advocate Latif Khosa while talking to The News said that his client was convicted under sections 409 and 547. Kazmi hails from a religious background in his home town Multan. He was insulted and defamed through fake charges and media trial. Now when all the three has served their four years imprisonment sentences, what remedy the state has for keeping them confined and jailed, Khosa questioned.

 

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