Rehman Malik acquitted in NAB reference -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Rehman Malik acquitted in NAB reference

By Ishaq Tanoli

KARACHI: An accountability court acquitted on Thursday Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik in a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference.

The minister was charged with misusing his official position as an additional director of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to get a special quota of bitumen at low rates for his brother-in-law in 1995.

Mr Malik, through his counsel Khawaja Naveed Ahmed, had filed an acquittal application under Section 265-K (power of court to acquit accused at any stage) of the criminal procedure code.

The judge, Mohammad Riaz Rajput, of the Accountability Court-IV allowed the acquittal plea after hearing arguments from both sides.

According to the judgment, through the scrutiny of record it transpired that no cogent or convincing evidence had been brought on record by the prosecution against the applicant/ accused in support of the allegations levelled against him in the subject reference.

“Perusal of affidavit of G. A. Sabri, the then director general, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, clearly reflects that in Feb/March 1997, the FIA authorities approached him for investigation to register a case against the applicant/ accused on the allegation that he misused his official position and caused undue pressure on him for allocation of bitumen at subsidised rates for export to Afghanistan to M/S NSR headed by his brother-in-law and that he had no authority to allocate bitumen at subsidised rates and no such undue pressure was put on him,” it added.

The court further observed in its verdict that Mr Sabri appeared in court and admitted the contents of the affidavit filed by the applicant’s counsel that he was not pressurised by the applicant.

The court maintained that it fully agreed with the apex court’s observations made in a criminal petition that there was no solid evidence against the accused.

“In the attending circumstance and in view of no objection of learned deputy prosecutor-general and observations of honourable Supreme Court in criminal petition No 96 of 1997, I am of my considered opinion that there is no probability of conviction of accused in the subject reference,” the verdict concluded.

Earlier, the applicant’s counsel submitted that his client was framed in false cases on political grounds in order to put pressure on him to give untrue statements against former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

He contended that there was no evidence against the applicant and the same had been observed by the apex court in the bail order.

He argued that a key prosecution witness, G. A. Sabri, admitted that the applicant had not pressurised him regarding the allocation of bitumen and prayed to the court to acquit his client.

The deputy prosecutor-general of the NAB did not oppose the acquittal plea and conceded that there was only allegations made in the case against the applicant and the same had not been proved by the prosecution.

According to the prosecution, in 1995 Rehman Malik being the additional director of the FIA misused his official position and got allocated 50,000 tonnes of bitumen from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources at very low rates for the NSR Company to send it to Afghanistan free of central excise duty and income tax. The firm was headed by Rehman Malik’s brother-in-law Dr Zaheer Ahmed.

The prosecution added that in June and July 1995, the firm obtained the consignment of bitumen without payment of central excise duty and other charges, but it was not sent to Afghanistan and dumped in Khyber Agency and sold in local market at exorbitant rates causing a lose of Rs10 million to Rs12 million to the national exchequer.

A case (FIR 01/1997) was registered under Sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document), 109 (punishment of abetment if the act abetted committed in consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1947, in February 1997 at the FIA crime circle-II on the complaint of the manger of the National Refinery Limited, Khawaja Shahid Waheed.

A charge-sheet was submitted in the special anti-corruption court in which Rehman Malik was shown on bail while Dr Zaheer Ahmed, Ms Amtul Mateen, Kaleem Abbas and Azeem Farooqui were placed in the column of absconding accused. Another accused Roedad Khan was shown expired in the charge-sheet.Later, the court declared the absconding accused as proclaimed offenders.

In December 2003, the National Accountability Bureau filed an application under Section 16-A (a) of NAB Ordinance for transfer of the case to NAB courts.

The plea was allowed and the case sent to the accountability court, where the NAB filed a reference (02/2004) against Rehman Malik.

However, the reference was withdrawn on March 25, 2008 under Section 7 of the National Reconciliation Ordinance. It was reopened on Dec 18, 2009 in the light of a Supreme Court verdict against the NRO.
Source: Dawn
Date:3/5/2010