SHC declines to hear LARP’s official bail plea on corruption charges

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A bench of the Sindh High Court (SHC) headed by Naimatullah Phulpoto has declined to proceed with the bail plea of Lines Area Redevelopment Project (LARP)’s Additional Director Finance Shahid Umar, who was arrested for his alleged involvement in china-cutting and the sale of plots at throw-away prices.

The counsel of the accused objected to Justice Naimatullah’s presence on the bench, stating that Justice Naimatullah was had earlier dismissed the bail of his client.

After the refusal of the bench, the matter has been referred to the SHC Chief Justice in hopes that he will assign it to a bench of which Justice Naimatullah is not a member.

Shahid Umar along with LARP’s deputy directors, Farid Naseem, Waseem Iqbal and Shahid Umer, and  additional directors Atta Abbas and Rashid Hussain, were arrested in July last year for allegedly cutting an area of 7,624 square yards in the city’s Lines area illegally and selling plots at throwaway prices, causing Rs363 millions loss to the national exchequer.

Shahid Umar had filed a plea seeking bail after arrest on grounds of statutory delay.

At the outset, the NAB’s special prosecutor informed the judges that the applicant along with other LARP officers divided large commercial plots and leased them out to private parties at the rate of Rs 200 per sq yard instead of auctioning them at the rate of Rs 50,000 per sq yard. The plots were earmarked to be auctioned through a minimum reserve price of Rs 50,000 per sq yard.