LAHORE - An accountability court on Monday reserved its verdict on an application filed against the indictment of PML-N leaders Khawaja Saad Rafique and his brother Khawaja Salman Rafique in Paragon City scam, and adjourned the matter until October 16.

Khawaja brothers were produced on expiry of their judicial remand before Accountability Court Judge Syed Jawadul Hassan. The NAB prosecutor submitted that after the indictment of the suspect, the jurisdiction could not be challenged. He further submitted that the bureau had the authority to investigate the matter.

He submitted that the Lahore High Court had elaborated jurisdiction of the Bureau in Murad Arshad case which was also a case of housing society. He submitted that the reference was filed after fulfilling all legal requirements.

On the other side, the defence counsel advanced his arguments on application against indictment of Khawaja brothers. He submitted that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed the reference against his clients without considering Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) regulations and the Companies Act.

He argued that that the bureau was not authorised to investigate and file reference in the matter as the Paragon City was a company and the bureau could not interfere in companies issues.

The SECP regulations and Companies Act explain the method of trial and conviction and sessions court was empowered to hear the matter, he submitted. He termed the reference illegal and submitted that the filing of reference was a violation of fundamental rights of his clients. He submitted that there was no allegation of misuse of powers against Khawaja brothers.

After hearing arguments, the court reserved its verdict till October 16.

On December 11, 2018, the PML-N leaders were arrested by the bureau. A Lahore High Court bench dismissed post-arrest bail petitions of the Khawaja brothers on June 18. Besides the Khawaja brothers, Nadeem Zia, Umar Zia, and Farhan Ali were also nominated in the reference.

They had filed the application against their indictment submitting that neither the bureau nor the accountability court had jurisdiction in the matter.

The reference says that the Khawaja brothers, through their ‘benamidars’ and with the abetment of former MPA Qaiser Amin Butt and Nadeem Zia, established a housing project in the name of Air Avenue. The project was later converted into a new housing project namely Paragon City Pvt Ltd, which NAB said was an illegal society and not approved by the Lahore Development Authority.

The former railways minister and his brother received monetary benefits of Rs 58 million and 39 million, respectively, from the society through proxy firms under the grab of consultancy services, it added.

LHC issues notices to

secy wildlife, DG

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday issued notices to secretary wildlife and director General (DG) wildlife for the implementation of recommendations proposed by the Blackbucks Commission.

The commission headed by Dr Pervez Hassan submitted a report stating that the hunting of blackbucks should not be allowed until population survey is conducted and all safeguard measures are taken in Lal Sohanra Park Bahawalpur and Cholistan area.

The commission admitted the fact that blackbuck is a rare specie and must be protected at every cost and in this respect govt of Punjab Wildlife Department must ensure allocation of funds to enhance its capacity. The judge issued notices to secretary wildlife and DG forest wildlife for October 28 so that the recommendations can be made part of court order and implemented in letter and spirit.

Appearing before Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh, the petitioner’s counsel Sheraz Zaka Advocate argued that the petitioner has no objections if Blackbucks Commission’s recommendations are implemented in letter and spirit. He argued that blackbucks is protected species mentioned in third schedule of Punjab Preservation and Protection of Wildlife therefore it’s hunting must be brought to a halt since it is also enlisted as vulnerable specie under CITES convention on international treaty of endangered species.