SC admonishes NAB for inefficiency in Ashiana case


–NAB informs court former LDA DG Ahad Cheema has not filed application for bail 


ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday reprimanded the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials for lagging behind in their probe in the Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme and asked them to “work properly”.

The top court was hearing a case pertaining to the Ashiana scam in which a Rs14 billion contract was unlawfully awarded to CASA Developers by former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif and his aides. Shehbaz has been in NAB’s custody since October 5.

As a three-member bench headed by Justice Azmat Saeed heard the case, suspects Munir Zia and Imtiaz Haider submitted their bail pleas for consideration.

The assistant counsel informed the bench that Zia’s lawyer Azam Nazeer Tarrar couldn’t appear in court because he is occupied with cases that are being heard at the Lahore registry of the top court.

He requested the court to adjourn the hearing for three days.

During the hearing, Justice Saeed asked the NAB prosecutor to brief him on the case.

The prosecutor informed the bench that the suspects in the case had unlawfully given a contract, which had been legitimately awarded to one company, to CASA Developers. As a result, there was a cost escalation of billions of rupees and the national exchequer incurred losses. In response, Justice Saeed asked if NAB had charged the owners of CASA and had them arrested.

The NAB investigation officer replied that CASA is jointly owned by three companies and an interim reference has been filed against six suspects.

He added that former Punjab chief minister and senior bureaucrat Fawad Hassan Fawad have been arrested in the case for investigation.

“However, a final reference will be filed later.”

At this point, the judge commented that if CASA was jointly owned by three companies, then how is it possible that only six suspects have been arrested in the case.

“NAB officials, start working properly,” the judge told the investigators.

Then, the judge inquired about Ahad Cheema, former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) director general (DG), who is one of the six people arrested by the accountability watchdog.

“Has the main suspect approached the court with a bail request?” he asked.

The NAB prosecutor replied that Cheema has not filed a request yet.

The judge then concluded the hearing and said that this is an “important” case and NAB should investigate it properly.

“We are not making any decision today as counsels are not present,” he added.

The hearing of the case was adjourned till November 29.