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Saturday July 02, 2022

Supreme Court seeks details of all NAB accused acquitted by courts

The apex court made the observation while hearing appeals filed by the National Accountability Bureau against bails granted to accused persons in the Saaf Pani Reference by the Lahore High Court

June 22, 2022
The SC building in Islamabad. Photo: The News/File
The SC building in Islamabad. Photo: The News/File 

ISLAMABAD: Seeking details of all the accused acquitted by the Accountability Courts across the country, the Supreme Court observed on Tuesday the National Accountability Bureau tends to detain accused for their alleged involvement in corruption cases but later they are acquitted for want of incriminating evidence.

The apex court made the observation while hearing appeals filed by the National Accountability Bureau against bails granted to accused persons in the Saaf Pani Reference by the Lahore High Court.

Appearing before the three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ayesha A Malik, the special prosecutor NAB submitted the appeals were filed over two years ago and during the period the Accountability Court acquitted all the accused for lack of evidence.

“Hence, the appeals filed in the apex court against the accused have become infructuous,” the NAB Prosecutor submitted. The court asked the prosecutor when the Accountability Court acquitted the accused. The prosecutor replied they were acquitted on January 31, 2022. Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked the prosecutor if the NAB keeps the record of accused acquitted by the Accountability Courts. The prosecutor replied in the affirmative. On which, the Court sought a comprehensive report containing details of all the accused acquitted by the NAB courts across the country.

During his stint as chief minister Punjab, Mian Shehbaz Sharif had launched Saaf Pani project in the province by establishing filtration plants and appointed MPA Raja Qamrul Islam as the project chairman.

In 2018, the anti-corruption watchdog filed a Saaf Pani Reference against 16 persons, including Zaheer-ud-Din, Nasir Qadir, Masood Akhtar, Saleem Akhtar and Khalid Naeem for causing Rs345 million loss to the national exchequer.

However, on January 31, 2022, the Accountability Court, Lahore, headed by Muhammad Sajid Ali acquitted all the 16 accused in the reference and declared the project as transparent. Besides the court ruled that the anti-graft body could not establish any irregularity in the reference.

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