An accountability court on Tuesday remanded Sindh Local Government Secretary Roshan Ali Sheikh and other former Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) officials to jail in judicial custody until September 2.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had arrested Sheikh and eight other former KMC officials after the Sindh High Court (SHC) dismissed their pre-arrest bail on Monday. They were booked for illegal allotment of 221.55 acres of land in Landhi.
Sheikh, former Karachi district coordination officer Fazlur Rehman, and other former officers of the then City District Government Karachi (CDGK) and the revenue department — Nadeem Qadir Khokhar, Mohammad Waseem, Sabahul Islam, Shahzad Khan, Sohail Yar Khan, Ahmed Ali, Mashkoor Khan and Farrukh Jamal — had obtained pre-arrest bail in the NAB reference.
The watchdog has accused the former KMC officials of illegally allotting 276 plots measuring 221.55 acres and of issuing illegal challans for 121 plots of 4,000 square yards.
NAB claims the suspects caused a loss amounting to Rs6.22 billion to the national exchequer as well as committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices.
According to the prosecution, the KMC was given 250 acres of land in 1960 for shifting wool-washing tanneries on the payment of Malkano (government fee).
However, neither was the land used for that purpose nor was it incorporated into the village form in the name of the KMC due to the non-payment of Malkano.
NAB alleged that the then KMC officials from 2008 onwards knew that neither was the wool-washing tanneries project established nor were the plots allotted, but they executed as many as 276 illegal leases from 2008 to 2015 of the said plots. The court told the investigating officer to submit a progress report in the next hearing.
A day earlier, the defence counsel had submitted that his clients were not the beneficiaries of the scam, as allotments were made before 1993 and the documents were not collected by the IO due to mala fide intentions.
He said that according to his clients, there was a civil dispute between the KMC and the revenue department over the title of the land, which was still pending adjudication before the SHC.
The NAB special prosecutor said that Sheikh being the then CDGK executive district officer and former city commissioner misused his authority by deliberately issuing misleading reports to the land utilisation secretary about the status of the land allotted to the KMC in 1960.
The SHC’s division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha said the record reflected that the land was allotted to the KMC in December 1960 for shifting wool-washing tanneries from Lyari Quarter on the payment of Malkano.
The court said that neither was the land properly leased nor was the Malkano paid, and the said land was properly resumed by the Sindh government in 1993, so the KMC was not entitled to lease it.
The bench said that it found no mala fide intention on the part of the NAB officials, adding that cases of white-collar crimes were complicated, so the entire transaction and each component of the scam needed to the viewed completely.
The judge said that in most cases the offence could not be committed without the active involvement of others in the chain of events that led to the commission of the offence.