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Karachi

September 14, 2017

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Memon challenges warrants issued in graft reference

Memon challenges warrants issued in graft reference

Former information minister Sharjeel Inam Memon on Wednesday moved the Sindh High Court for quashing non-bailable arrest warrants issued against him by an accountability court in a Rs5 billion corruption reference.

The accountability court had issued the warrants on October 1, 2016, over Memon’s non-appearance at trial court proceedings. His counsel stated that Memon was granted transitory protective bail by the high court and told to surrender before the trial court, but he could not due to a medical ailment. 

The counsel submitted that he came to know during trial proceedings that a NBW against the petitioner was still valid although a bail petition of the petitioner was pending before the SHC.  He requested the court to suspend the warrant and set aside the same as being unlawful. Memon’s counsel also concluded his arguments before the court on the bail petition.

The former information minister was booked by the National Accountability Bureau in a reference along with information department officials and advertising companies’ representatives for corruption in the award of provincial government’s advertisements to electronic media outlets. 

His counsel, Amir Raza Naqvi, submitted that Memon was falsely implicated in the NAB reference as he did not approve the distribution of advertisements. Also, he contended, the inquiry was initiated after Memon had travelled abroad for medical treatment.

He submitted that TV channels had different rates for airtime and the petitioner could not be charged for awarding ads at exorbitant rates to advertisement companies. He maintained that all the payments were made as per the Sindh Public Procurement Rules and other relevant laws.  

The counsel contended that the federal and Punjab governments were also issuing advertisements to the media but no inquiry was initiated against them by NAB.  NAB’s prosecutor Altaf Khan had earlier opposed the bail applications of Memon and his co-accused, submitting that pre-qualification of advertising agencies was conducted in violation of the Sindh Public Procurement Rules.

He submitted that Memon, during his tenure from June 2013 to July 2015, had illegally approved release of official advertisements for an awareness campaign through “so-called pre-qualified advertising agencies” in violation of due process. Khan stated that contracts were released to favorite agencies at exorbitant rates without even confirming the market rates.  He submitted that NAB had sufficient evidence to prove the petitioners caused losses to the national exchequer. The court adjourned the hearing for further arguments.

 

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