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July 12, 2019

SHC serves notice on NAB on Durrani’s plea against filing of corruption reference


July 12, 2019

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday issued notices to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), a federal law officer and others on a petition filed by Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani against the filing of a corruption reference against him before an accountability court.

The PA speaker, who belongs to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), had filed the petition with the SHC against the filing of NAB reference against him that pertained to misuse of authority and accumulation of wealth beyond known sources of income.

The anti-graft watchdog has alleged that Durrani, during the periods when he held offices of the Sindh local government minister and the Sindh Assembly speaker, misused his authority and accumulated wealth beyond his sources of income, causing a loss of Rs1.6 billion to the national exchequer.

A counsel for Durrani challenged the implication of the PA speaker in the NAB reference and submitted that the reference had been filed without completing the requirements of the NAB Ordinance, due to which it was liable to be set aside.

The SHC questioned the maintainability of the petition as the reference has been filed before the trial court. The high court issued notices to NAB and others and called their comments on August 21.

Durrani was arrested by NAB on February 20 this year when he had gone to Islamabad. A day later, he was produced by the anti-graft watchdog before an accountability court which remanded him in NAB custody till March 1. However, the anti-graft watchdog later managed to get his remand extended.

The PPP strongly criticised NAB for arresting the PA speaker. In a meeting chaired by PPP Sindh President Nisar Khuhro on February 23, a raid carried out by the anti-graft watchdog at Durrani’s house was termed robbery. The PPP leaders also warned of massive protests against the speaker’s arrest.

The accountability court rejected NAB’s request to extend Durrani’s remand on April 12, after which he was shifted to jail. On June 15, he was shifted to his chamber in the Sindh Assembly after the Sindh government termed it sub-jail.

Ads corruption case

The SHC also directed NAB to file comments on a petition of former information secretary Zulfiqar Shalwani in a corruption reference pertaining to government advertisements.

Shalwani, former information minister Sharjeel Inam Memon, and information department officials, including Sarang Latif and others, were booked by NAB in the corruption reference along advertising companies’ representatives for allegedly committing corruption to the tune of over Rs5.78 billion in the award of advertisements of the provincial government’s awareness campaigns.

A counsel for the petitioner submitted that the SHC had already granted bail to former information minister Memon following a notification of the federal government with regard to advertisement rates. He said the petitioner was behind the bars since the last two years and requested the SHC to grant him bail.

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