An Accountability Court on Tuesday extended physical remand of six accused including former director general of Lahore Development Authority Ahad Khan Cheema for their alleged role in Aashiyana-e-Iqbal Housing scam.

NAB officials produced the suspects including Cheema, Bismillah Engineering Company owner Shahid Shafiq, LDA Chief Engineer Israr Saeed, Punjab Land Development Company Chief Engineer Col (retired) Arif Majeed, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) PLDC Imtiaz Haider and another PLDC official Bilal Qudwai.

Police officials had been performing their duty, pretending themselves as “personal security squad” of Ahad Khan Cheema during his appearance before the court. They barred media from coverage of the Aashiyana-e-Iqbal housing scam case, closed down the courtroom and behaved rudely with the reporters reached there to attend the court proceedings.

Police officials, who failed to produce any written order from the court authorities, kept insisting that they had been ordered by the judge to stop media persons from coverage of the Aashiyana housing scam. However, with the interference of the lawyers, the reporters were allowed to enter into the courtroom.

Meanwhile, proceedings of other courts were also affected by the rude behavior and unprofessional attitude of police who forced the litigants to stay away from the court premises.  

The counsel of the accused told the court that the contract was passed in accordance with the law while the government did not issue a single rupee for the contract. The counsel said that when there was not even a single rupee then how it could be said that huge amount was embezzled.  He questioned that arrest of Ahad Khan Cheema and others made by NAB officials was unlawful as no prior inquiry was held into the matter in question.

However, NAB’s lawyer Waris Janjua opposed their arguments and said that important development took place during investigation of the accused persons including Cheema. He pleaded the court to extend for more fifteen days physical remand of the accused. However, the court extended for fourteen days their physical remand and directed the NAB officials to produce them again on April 03.

Cheema was arrested last month for 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.

Government is facing a liquidation loss of about Rs 455 million as the estimate of the construction of Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme has increased manifold due to delay in the project.