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SC admonishes NAB for inefficiency in Ashiana case

SC admonishes NAB for inefficiency in Ashiana case

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday reprimanded National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials for lagging behind in their probe and asked them to “work properly”.

The top court was hearing a case pertaining to the Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme scam in which a 14 billion contract was unlawfully awarded to CASA developers by former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif and his aides. Shehbaz has been in NAB’s custody since October 5.

As a three-member bench headed by Justice Azmat Saeed heard the case, suspects Munir Zia and Imtiaz Haider submitted their bail pleas for consideration.

The assistant counsel informed the bench that Azam Nazeer Tarrar, Zia’s lawyer, couldn’t appear in court because he is occupied with cases that are being heard at the Lahore registry of the top court.

He requested the court to adjourn the hearing for three days.

During the hearing, Justice Saeed asked NAB prosecutor to brief him on the case.

The prosecutor informed the bench that the suspects in the case had unlawfully given a contract which had been legitimately awarded to one company to another that they favoured, namely CASA. As a result, there was a cost escalation of billions of rupees and the national exchequer incurred damages.

In response, Justice Saeed asked if NAB had charged the owners of CASA and had them arrested.

The NAB investigation officer replied that CASA is jointly owned by three companies and an interim reference has been filed against six suspects.

He added that former Punjab chief minister and senior bureaucrat Fawad Hassan Fawad have been arrested in the case for investigation.

“However, a final reference will be filed later.”

At this point, the judge commented that if CASA was jointly owned by three companies, then how is it possible that only six suspects have been arrested in the case.

He admonished: “NAB officials, start working properly.”

Then, the judge inquired of Asad Cheema, former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) director general (DG), one of the six people arrested by the accountability watchdog.

“Has the main suspect approached the court with a bail request?” he asked.

NAB prosecutor replied that Cheema has not filed a request yet.

Then, the judge concluded the hearing and said that this is an “important” case and NAB should investigate properly.

“We are not making any decision today as counsels are not present,” he added.