NAB submits petition asking SC to review Khawaja brothers bail verdict

The National Accountability Bureau has submitted a review petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan regarding the Khawaja brothers case after it granted bail to the PML-N leaders in the Paragon Housing case last month.

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The accountability watchdog urged the apex court to take back its decision to grant the accused bail and review paragraphs, 18-48, 56-70, in the written verdict.

The NAB contended that the SC had given remarks and observations of a severe nature in the above-mentioned paragraphs.

“In the light of these remarks, the trial court will face difficulty in its proceedings,” the NAB mentioned in its review petition.

It further said that the court’s remarks against witness Qaiser Ameen Butt were “strict” and they do not fall in line with the court’s precedence.

The watchdog said regarding the case that the prosecution had remained adamant on its stance and completed the inquiry against the accused.

The anti-graft body said that as per the rules, in NAB cases, a three-member bench of the SC can hear the case but when it came to the Khawaja brothers’ case, a two-member bench of the apex court announced the verdict.

The apex court has flouted the principles of the larger bench, the authority said.

The NAB also stated that the SC had announced that verdicts should be written briefly, however, the two-member bench of the court gave an 87-page long verdict in the case.

In March, the SC had granted bail to PML-N leaders Khawaja Saad Rafique and Khawaja Salman Rafique in a case relating to a housing society scam.

The apex court approved the Khawaja brothers bail against two bonds worth Rs 3 million each.

The Rafique brothers had approached the apex court after the LHC had cancelled their bail plea.

The case gained attention, which was evident from the fact that the Human Rights Watch even cited it in a message recently, slamming NAB for intimidating political opponents.

Stop harassing, intimidating political opponents through NAB: HRW

The HRW urged Pakistani authorities to stop using NAB to harass and intimidate opponents. It referred to it as “a dictatorship-era body, possessing draconian and arbitrary powers”.

In a statement, the rights organisation said that the government should follow up on the 87-page detailed verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on the Khawaja brothers case to rein in the anti-graft body.

“The court granted the men bail and criticised the NAB for showing ‘utter disregard to the law, fair play, equity and propriety,’ ruling that the ‘case was a classic example of trampling of fundamental rights [and] unlawful deprivation of freedom’,” read a statement from the HRW.

NAB allegations

Following their arrests, NAB Lahore issued a press release and stated that “accused Saad Rafique along with his benamidaar wife Ghazala Saad Rafique, brother Salman Rafique in association with Qaiser Amin Butt and Nadeem Zia established a housing project in the name of Air Avenue which was converted into a new housing project namely M/S Paragon City Pvt Limited. The record shows that M/S Paragon City is an illegal society.”

“The accused in collusion, connivance and collaboration of Qaiser Amin Butt and Nadeem Zia cheated the members of public at large and obtained illegal pecuniary benefits from the funds of said illegal housing project,” it added.

Further, it stated, “Accused is operating this illegal housing project through his associates/ co-accused persons who are collecting deposits from general public despite clear directions from LDA that this project is unapproved.”

“Accused has been and is continuously obtaining illegal/ illegitimate funds/ benefits from said project as he obtained 40 kanal plots in his own name and the name of his brother Salman Rafique.”

The press release continued, “Accused by misusing his official position continued the expansion and marketing of illegal housing project and also obtained undue benefits in the form of sale of numbers of commercial plots worth billions of rupees which were actually not owned by M/S Paragon City. Thus the buyers have been cheated through this action of corruption and corrupt practices.

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