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August 14, 2019

SHC sets aside convictions of two USC employees in NAB reference

Karachi

August 14, 2019

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has set aside the conviction of two employees of the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) in a corruption reference of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Appellants Masood Alam Niazi and Ziaullah Khan had been sentenced to five-year and seven-year imprisonment respectively by an accountability court on October 11, 2018 for their involvement in misusing their official authority and misappropriating an amount of Rs.19,236,702 through fake payments in the head of labour charges.

According to NAB, Niazi, then zonal manager of Zonal Office, USC Karachi, had misused his authority and transferred an amount of Rs19,236,702 into the account of Khan, the then accounts clerk, who had been deputed as incharge for lifting of sugar from the Pipri Godown of the Trading Corporation Pakistan (TCP) in the head of labour charges, which had already been paid by the TCP to the handing agent namely, M/s Badaruddin Terminal, Karachi, as per an earlier agreement.

The appellants submitted that they did not misuse authority and none of the prosecution witnesses had implicated them with the commission of offences and they had been involved in the case at the behest of a rival group.

They submitted that disputed amount was paid to the transporters through cheques towards labour charges and it had been wrongly stated in the reference that such charges were paid by the TCP.

The SHC was informed that Niazi was neither the signatory of any cheque nor he had any connection with the issuance of cheques. The counsel submitted that the prosecution had failed to discharge its liability of proving the guilt of the appellants beyond shadow of reasonable doubt and prayed for setting aside the impugned judgment and acquittal of the appellants.

A division bench of the SHC, comprising Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Justice Shamsuddin Abbasi, observed that none of the witnesses had implicated the appellants with the allegations of misappropriation or embezzlement of amount and no case of misappropriation had been made out against them.

The SHC observed that the prosecution had failed to discharge its onus of proving the guilt of the appellants beyond shadow of reasonable doubt. The high court set aside the convictions handed down by the trial court and acquitted the appellants of charges.

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