An accountability court on Saturday framed charges against Pak Sarzameen Party Chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal and nine others in a case pertaining to the alleged illegal allotment of a piece of commercial land in Karachiâs upmarket Clifton neighbourhood for constructing a multi-storey building.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed a reference against Kamal, then district coordination officer Fazlur Rehman, then executive district officer Iftikhar Qaimkhani, then district officer Mumtaz Haider, then additional district officer Syed Nishat Ali, then Clifton sub-registrar II Nazir Zardari and five builders, including Muhammad Dawood, Muhammad Yaqoob, Muhammad Irfan and Muhammad Rafiq.
Meanwhile, the judge bifurcated the case against one of the real estate developers who is allegedly absconding abroad, and issued a perpetual warrant for his arrest.
For the indictment of the accused, Accountability Court III judge Dr Sher Bano Karim read out the charges to the men, all of whom were present in court except the allegedly absconding builder. The judge summoned the prosecution witnesses on December 5 to record their testimonies in the case.
According to the anti-graft watchdog, in 1982 the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation had created 198 stalls and shops on two amenity plots adjacent to the Kothari Parade for dislocated hawkers, while four commercial plots, each measuring 255.55 square yards, were also created in the locality.
NAB claimed that the real estate developers later purchased four commercial plots and 198 stalls of the hawkers. However, the two amenity plots were never transferred in the buildersâ name.
The watchdog also claimed that the builders in connivance with the then city mayor Kamal and other officials unlawfully got 102 stalls transferred in favour of a real estate development companyâs name through a conveyance deed without obtaining the permission of the Karachi Development Authority.
The NAB reference claimed that the price of these stalls was shown in the registration deed to be only Rs260 million, but its market value was assessed at Rs2.155 billion and the forced sale value was adjudged at Rs1.724 billion.
The watchdog claimed that the allegedly absconding builder was the subsequent beneficiary of the amalgamated plot that was illegally transferred in the name of his company in connivance with the main beneficiary and the then Clifton sub-registrar II.
In September the judge had dismissed an acquittal application of the allegedly absconding builder, who had withdrew the same and informed the court that he might opt for a plea bargain with NAB.
According to his counsel, he wanted to withdraw his acquittal application, which was filed under Section 265-K of the Criminal Procedure Code, read with Section 4(2)(b) of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999.
The counsel had informed the court that his client had already reached a settlement in three other cases with the watchdog, who had accepted his plea bargain. Subsequently, added the counsel, the relevant accountability court in Rawalpindi had also approved his plea bargain settlement with NAB in those matters.