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April 13, 2019

Accountability court rejects NAB request to extend Durrani’s remand


April 13, 2019

An accountability court on Friday sent Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani to jail, turning down National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) request to extend his remand for 15 days.

The court also directed the bureau to submit a progress report by April 26. The federal anti-graft watchdog produced Durrani before the accountability court and sought his further remand for completing the inquiry. The investigation officer submitted that NAB had to record statements of witnesses in the presence of the accused. He said the suspect was not cooperating with NAB due to which the bureau needed further remand of him.

The court, however, turned down the request and sent Durrani to prison, directing the investigation officer to complete the investigations by April 26. Meanwhile, the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday issued notices to NAB, deputy attorney general and others on bail petition of Durrani who was arrested by NAB over corruption charges.

Durrani, a Pakistan Peoples Party leader, had approached the SHC to obtain post-arrest bail in NAB inquiries against him for his alleged accumulation of wealth and assets beyond his known source of income.

Durrani’s arrest is one of the recent high-profile arrests made by the federal anti-graft watchdog, which has been investigating charges of embezzlement of public funds and illegal appointments in government departments against various politicians.

The petitioner informed the SHC that he had been elected to the Sindh Assembly for the last many consecutive elections and cleared of charges in all pending inquiries against him. A counsel for the petitioner submitted that NAB had issued call-up notice to the PA speaker in February and later arrested him from Islamabad on charges which had to be probed and proved against him before the trial court.

The lawyer argued that the detention of the PA speaker for more than one month in the name of interrogation was unlawful and signified political victimisation. He requested the court to declare the arrest of Durrani to be illegal and grant bail to him. After the preliminary hearing of the petition, the SHC issued notices to NAB and the deputy attorney general and called their comments on April 24.

Gutka ban case

The SHC issued notices to the health secretary, the inspector general of police (IGP) Sindh and others on a petition seeking a ban on the sale and manufacturing of Gutka in the province.

Petitioner Naseem Haider submitted in the petition that Gutka and Mainpuri were being sold in different districts of the province which caused several diseases including oral health issues. He submitted that despite several directions from the judiciary, the police and other civic bodies had failed to control the manufacturing and sale of Gutka and Mainpuri in the city.

He requested the court to order registration of FIRs against sellers and manufacturers of Gutka and Mainpuri under the Section 336 of the Pakistan Penal Code and direct the authorities to take appropriate action against the culprits involved in the sale and manufacturing of the hazardous products.

The SHC, after the preliminary hearing of the petition, issued notices to the advocate general Sindh, the health secretary, the IGP and others and called their comments on April 26.

Death sentence commuted

The SHC dismissed the appeal of a convict on death row against his conviction but commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment in a murder case. The court also set aside life imprisonment of a woman co-accused in the case.

Asif Munir was sentenced to death while co-accused Seema Malok was handed down life imprisonment by a trial court for murdering a man, Samiullah. According to the prosecution, the appellants had killed Samiullah over a marriage dispute.

After hearing the arguments and perusal of the evidence of the case, the SHC dismissed the appeal of Munir but commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment, and acquitted the co-accused woman of murder charges.