Rasool fraud case may give rise to sensitive matters: SC

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Hearing the Rs 630 million fraud case of Mian Khurram Rasool on Friday, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry observed that the case had become a high-profile one and would give rise to sensitive matters.
He was heading a three-member bench comprising Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez, which was hearing a petition filed by Parvez Hussain and others against Rasool, who allegedly swindled a Karachi-based business out of more than Rs 630 million on the pretext of managing a petroleum export licence for it to supply NATO troops in Afghanistan and get a contract for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). In compliance with the court’s January 25 orders, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officials produced Rasool in court handcuffed. The chief justice admonished the officials for producing him handcuffed, noting that he had been moving freely outside but was handcuffed before being brought in, so it was all just a drama. Rasool told the court that he had been adviser to the prime minister. He said he had not committed any fraud but it was a business deal with the petitioner, Pervez Hassan of Afghan Carpets. He said he had paid around 80 percent of the outstanding sum and he was ready to pay back the remaining, which was not more than Rs 100 or 110 million.
He said the petitioner was threatening his family members and falsely implicating the prime minister in the matter. “Basically, I am a businessman, however I had quit my business when I was appointed the PM’s media coordinator,” Khurram said. He said he had full trust in the court, thus he handed himself over to the FIA in its office. Justice Hussain noted that Rasool was not arrested despite repeated orders of the court so the credit for his arrest could not be given to the FIA. Rasheed A Rizvi, counsel for the petitioner, contended that no payment was made by the accused and the cheques he had given had bounced. He said all the deals involving billions of rupees were drawn up when Rasool was sitting at PM’s House, adding that the FIA only arrested him after the matter was referred to the apex court.
He requested the court to take up the entire matter, but the chief justice remarked that the case should be prosecuted at the relevant forum, adding that the Supreme Court had nothing to do with it, as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) should have been approached for the purpose. Earlier, FIA officials told the court that Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) Gas Member Muzaffar Manzoor had also been arrested for his alleged involvement in the matter.
The chief justice enquired whether the statement of PM’s Principal Secretary Khushnood Akhtar Lashari would be recorded as the petitioner had also named him among the respondents. “It feels as if nobody is trying to understand the case,” the chief justice said, adding that the case could have far-reaching effects. FIA Law Director Muhammad Azam Khan, however, contended that the accused had never been adviser to the prime minister. He said Rasool was nabbed by the FIA after a chase. FIA Director Inam Ghani Khan told the court that there was yet another case registered on January 26, 2012 against the accused and currently he was under arrest in that case. The court asked whether in compliance with its January 25 order the statements of Nargis Sethi – erstwhile principal secretary to the prime minister who had filed a first information report (FIR) against Rasool on January 26 under Sections 409/419/420/467/468/489(F)/109 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) read with Section 5(2), 1947, PCA with the FIA – where the alleged victims were the petitioner or his sons, were preserved in view of the importance of the case. The court was told, however, that their statements had only been recorded under Section 161, Cr.PC. The court had directed the FIA authorities to proceed to protect the statements of both Sethi and the petitioner in view of the allegations contained in the FIR and other documents available on record. The FIA told the court that the statements of Pervez and Sameer Hussain had been recorded under Section 164, Cr.PC. The court noted that despite registration of the case as far back as March 11, 2011, the FIA had failed to arrest the accused, which was evident from the impugned order of the Islamabad High Court (IHC). The IHC had disposed of the case on July 19, 2011 holding that the FIA had failed to arrest the accused despite repeated directions to its director general.
The petitioner had then filed a contempt petition under Article 204 of the constitution on the failure of the FIA chief to cause the arrest, which was also disposed of on July 24, 2011 by the IHC. The petitioner then challenged the IHC order under Article 185(3) of the constitution before the apex court.
The court noted that the FIA had an obligation to proceed with the case in accordance with law and cause the arrest of the accused if any incriminating evidence was available against them.
Later, the court adjourned until February 10 on the question arising out of the main petition wherein the IHC judgement was challenged and the FIA chief did not comply with the court’s directions. The court directed the FIA chief to personally appear on the next hearing.

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