LAHORE- The Lahore High Court Wednesday granted bail to two co-accused in Ashiyana scam case. However, the court barred them from leaving the country till the final decision in the case.

A division bench headed by Justice Ali Baqir Najfi passed the order and directed LDA Chief Engineer Israr Saeed and Punjab Land Development Company Chief Engineer Col (r) Arif Majeed to deposit Rs10,00,000 each as surety bonds.  The bench also directed both the accused to submit their passports to National Accountability Bureau.

The two were taken into custody by NAB authorities after the arrest ex-LDA DG Ahad Cheema who is still on physical remand.

On March 29, a NAB prosecutor had told an accountability court that both Israr Saeed and Arif Majeed had become approvers after which they approached the Lahore High Court to seek bails.

The suspects contended through their counsel that they were dragged in the case only for complying with the official direction of Mr Cheema, being director general of the LDA. The petitioners asked the court to grant them bail as they were no more required by the bureau.

The NAB authorities had arrested six persons including former LDA DG Ahad Khan Cheema, Bismillah Engineering Company owner Shahid Shafiq, LDA Chief Engineer Israr Saeed, Punjab Land Development Company Chief Engineer Col (retd) Arif Majeed, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) PLDC Imtiaz Haider and another PLDC official Bilal Qudwai for their alleged involvement in Ashiyana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme’s scam.   

Ahad Khan Cheema was arrested over charges of misusing his authority and, with criminal intent, processing and awarding Ashiana-e-lqbal project contract worth Rs14 billion to Lahore CASA Developers, a joint venture a firm which was ineligible for the same. The contract, in connivance with other accused persons, was awarded in violation of PPP Act, 2014.

NAB inquiry further revealed that Bismillah Engineering Services Co (a major shareholder of JV titled Lahore CASA Developers) was a proxy firm working on behalf of Paragon City (Pvt) Ltd.

Cheema allegedly received illegal gratification in the form of 32 kanals of land (valuing Rs30.09 million approximately from the owners of Paragon City (Pvt) Ltd.

 Plea against Nawaz

The Lahore High Court reserved verdict on maintainability of a petition against ex-PM  Nawaz Sharif over his recent remarks on Mumbai attacks. In another petition, the court allowed amendments.

Justice Shams Mahmood Mirza was hearing the petitions moved by PAT General Secretary Khurram Nawaz Gandapur and Pakistan Zindabad Party Chairman Advocate Aftab Virk.

The court reserved verdict on maintainability of the petition moved by Khurram.

Advocate Ahmad Awaise, the counsel of the other petitioner party, pleaded the court for amendment in the petition. The court accepted his plea and allowed him amendment.

Both the petitioners in their petition had said that Nawaz Sharif gave ‘irresponsible’ statement and brought bad image to the country across the world and subsequently India was crying for action against Pakistan.

They said Sharif’s statement benefited India and those who were against the homeland and equal to damaging the safety and the interests of state. They said apparently Sharif was guilty of high treason as well as offences punishable in terms of the Official Secret Act, 1923 for which he must be proceeded in accordance with law.

The petitioners plead that the statement of  Nawaz Sharif amounted to commit treason against the country and he was liable to be proceeded against under Article 6 of the Constitution as well as sections 3 and 5 of Official Secret Act, 1923.

Elias Davidson wrote a book “The Betrayal of India” by Elias Davidsson about Mumbai attacks and claimed that  it was India herself that staged the attacks with an objective to tell US and international community that India was a victim of Pakistan, said one petitioner. He said  the writer also claimed that the attack was carried out only for Indian’s narrative just to blame Pakistan.

They prayed to the court  order the ministry of interior to lodge a case against the former prime minister under Article 6 of the Constitution and prosecute him in terms of high treason.