Acquittal applications of Khawaja Saad Rafique, Salman Rafique rejected by court

LAHORE: An accountability court in Lahore on Wednesday rejected acquittal applications of former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and his brother former provincial minister Khawaja Salman Rafique in the Paragon Housing City scam case.

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On Monday, Judge Jawadul Hassan had reserved the verdict on the applications after advocates Ashtar Ausaf Ali and Amjad Pervaiz concluded their arguments on behalf of the petitioners against the jurisdiction of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to establish a reference against them.

The counsel had argued that disputes regarding a private business did not fall within the domain of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 and said that there was no allegation of corruption or misusing the national exchequer against the petitioners as public officeholders.

Additionally, they had said that the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) was the competent forum to look into such matters under the Companies Act 2017.

They asked the court to set aside the indictment of the petitioners and acquit them of the charges.

NAB prosecutor Hafiz Asadullah Awan had opposed the acquittal applications and argued that there were rulings by the Supreme Court that the trial court could not consider such appeals after the indictment. NAB powers were protected under Section 18(C) and D of the NAO 1999, he said.

Khawaja brothers are accused by the anti-graft watchdog of wrongfully gaining approximately Rs18.2 million from M/s Paragon City (Pvt) Limited in their bank accounts.

Rejecting the applications today, the accountability court summoned witnesses to present their testimonies against the Khawaja brothers in the next hearing. The judicial remand of the brothers was also extended till Oct 30.

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