Warrants stare at tycoon again
ISLAMABAD, July 9: Property tycoon Malik Riaz and his son Ali Riaz again face arrest as the Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court clarified on Monday that it never stopped any court from trying them.
A local judge had issued warrants of arrests for the two on June 26 for not appearing in his anti-corruption court but withdrew them after defence lawyers cited a restraining order passed in favour of the accused by the LHC’s division bench six months earlier.
On Monday, the bench, comprising Justice Chaudhry Mohammad Younis and Justice Ali Baqar Najfi, clarified that its December 26, 2011 order was specific to the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and did not restrain the anti-corruption court from trying Malik Riaz, his son, and five others for purchasing 1,401 kanals of land near Rawat in 2009, allegedly using fake identities and forged documents.
“There is no ambiguity in the order of the court of December 26. The proceedings before the ACE and NAB authorities were suspended and it does not find mention of suspension of proceedings before any court of law,” the bench declared.
Prosecutor General Sadaqat Ali Khan of Punjab provoked heated arguments from the tycoon’s counsel Gohar Ali Khan when he told the bench that Malik Riaz prepared forged documents of 1,401 kanals of land of widows, orphans and dead persons. But to dodge the law, the beneficiary of the fraud lodged a fake FIR with Islamabad police in which he mentioned that some fake people had sold that land to the land developer Bahria Town, the prosecutor said.
Last year, the matter reached the Supreme Court which ordered the ACE to probe into the matter, he said. The ACE in its inquiry found Malik Riaz, his son, Bahria Town employees as well as some revenue officials of the government of Punjab guilty and in October 2011, ACE obtained their arrest warrants from anti-corruption court.
According to the Punjab prosecutor the property tycoon then requested Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa to quash the inquiry of ACE Punjab who obliged but the Punjab government did not accept governor’s order.
The tycoon then challenged the ACE proceedings in the LHC but when the court summoned him in person, he, instead of appearing in the court, withdrew the petition from LHC and filed another petition in the Supreme Court where his case was also dismissed on November 14, 2011, the Punjab prosecutor said.
In the meantime, the tycoon involved the NAB into the controversy and under his influence NAB chairman, Admiral (retired) Fasih Bokhari, on November 21 issued a letter for the transfer of the land fraud case from ACE to NAB in order to rescue Bahria Town, the prosecutor alleged.
He claimed Malik Riaz was confident of his exoneration through friendly prosecution of NAB because a daughter of NAB chairman at that time was working in Bahria Town.
For this reason, the prosecutor said, the ACE filed a petition against the transfer of the land fraud case to NAB and the LHC issued the restraining order in this regard. He argued that the counsels of Malik Riaz misled the anti-corruption court by misinterpreting the LHC bench’s order which led it to withdrawal the arrest warrants of the tycoon, his son and
their other accomplices.
Malik Riaz’s counsel Gohar Ali Khan, however, argued that after the restraining order the anti-corruption court could not proceed with the case. He requested the court to adjourn
the matter as the senior counsel of Malik Riaz, barrister Aitzaz Ahsan was on general adjournment till August 10.
The bench is likely to resume proceedings in the case after August 8.