–NAB says will challenge LHC’s grant of bail to former senior bureaucrat in apex court
LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday granted bail to former principal secretary to the prime minister, Fawad Hassan Fawad in a case pertaining to accumulation of assets beyond known sources of income, and directed him to submit surety bonds worth Rs1 million.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has decided to challenge the LHC’s decision in the Supreme Court (SC).
NAB sources said that the anti-graft watchdog will immediately appeal for the cancellation of Fawad’s bail following the approval of NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal.
During the proceedings, the court asked the NAB prosecutor about the number of shares the ex-principal secretary held in the Motorway City and Kashmir Road Plaza projects.
Responding to the court’s query, the prosecutor said that he was not aware of this and the court should seek this information from the suspect. To this, the court responded angrily and asked the prosecutor why the suspect would share this information. The court further said that the anti-graft body’s lawyer should have done his homework.
Commenting on the development, former Punjab chief minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif termed Fawad an honest, competent and intelligent bureaucrat and said the former senior officer is an asset of the country.
In December last year, Fawad had submitted his second bail plea in the LHC, arguing that he had been behind bars for 15 months and his health had also deteriorated during the detention. He had asked the court to release him on bail as the trial had not been completed since over 15 months of his arrest and detention in jail on judicial remand.
Fawad is accused of owning a plaza in Rawalpindi valued at Rs5 billion and 14 “benami” bank accounts. However, in his petition, Fawad had said that the said plaza was, in fact, owned by a company of his brothers and other family members.
He had said that the plaza was constructed with a bank loan and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had its complete record since 1995.
Earlier on February 14, 2019, the court had denied him bail in the same case while allowing in the Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing Scheme scam wherein he was nominated by NAB.
Fawad was nominated in the Ashiana case for his alleged involvement in a scam of Rs14 billion. According to the Bureau, in 2013, Fawad, in his capacity as implementation secretary to former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif, allegedly pressurised the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) Chief Executive Officer Tahir Khursheed and Project Director Ali Moazzam to cancel the contract with M/S Chaudhry Latif and sons, and award it to M/S Lahore Casa Developers – a “favorite firm”.
NAB maintains that Fawad allegedly concealed the inquiry committee report declaring the award of the contract to M/S Chaudhry Latif and Sons as per the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules.
Due to allegedly illegal cancellation of the contract, the government had to pay Rs5.9 million in damages to the contractor. The cancellation of the contract also delayed the project, resulting in the cost escalation of billions of rupees.