LAHORE   -  Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar has observed that perpetrators of white-collar crime are highly clever.

“It is very difficult to take action against such criminals,” he said while hearing the salary case of former LDA DG Ahad Cheema on Saturday.

The CJP directed authorities to confiscate property of Ahad Cheema if he fails to pay back the amount received over and above his salary in the office during the last government of the PML-N in Punjab.

An SC special bench was hearing the case of LDA City whose land was allegedly made part of the Paragon Housing Scheme illegally.  On the court direction, Cheema was produced before the bench. During the course of hearing, the apex court learnt that Cheema had received Rs1.4 million per month additional salary as head of Bhikki Power Plant. The CJP was surprised to learn about this hefty sum of salary. “What was unique about you that you were given such a big amount as monthly salary?” the chief justice asked Cheema.

The court questioned if he procured political benefits for which he was rewarded with this inflated salary. “Had you been a blue-eyed (officer) of the (former) chief minister? The ex-chief executive of the province should have paid you from his own pocket instead of the state exchequer,” the chief justice said.

Cheema said that courts are independent and he is appearing before them.

The CJP observed that it was difficult to track white-collar crime. “The perpetrators of white collar crime are very shrewd. They do not leave behind any proof of their crime,” the chief justice said, adding that he can give in writing that those currently facing charges of white collar crime will escape punishment due to this fact.

The chief justice asked Cheema to name the person responsible for this destruction. “What was your concern with Paragon that you struck the LDA City agreement with it?” the chief justice asked, adding that Cheema first destroyed the Orange Line project and then the LDA City project. “Who is responsible for this?” he asked. The CJP directed the authorities to recover the extra salary amount from Cheema. In case he does not pay the money, the chief justice said, his property should be attached. The court also directed the LDA DG to prepare recommendations about the LDA City and adjourned the hearing of the case until December 29.

Cheema was taken into custody on February 21 on charges of illegally allotting 32 kanals of land of the Ashiana Housing Project.

He is on a judicial remand nowadays.