ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC), while giving a verdict in National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) corruption case, ordered NAB to register a case against its Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry for creating hurdles in the investigation process as interior secretary.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, on Friday issued the 52-page ruling authored by Chief Justice which also declared illegal the appointment of Ayaz Khan Niazi as the chairman of NICL.
The judgment said that former interior secretary Qamar Zaman Chaudhry and Abdul Rauf Chaudhry had tried to obstruct the decision.
The court also ordered that proceedings be initiated against former commerce minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, former commerce secretary Salman Ghani and the federal tax ombudsman.
Moreover, the ruling also said that proceedings be started against former establishment secretary Ismail Qureshi, former cabinet secretary Nargis Sethi, a former director of NICL Amin Qasim Dada, an accused in the case Mohsin Habib Warraich and former Director-General Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Malik Muhammad Iqbal.
The court also ordered that the money in question be recovered as quickly as possible.
News of corruption in the NICL first came to light when Ayaz Khan Niazi, four other officials of the company and their accomplices were charged with violating rules in the procurement of 10 acres in a Korangi area which caused huge financial losses to the national exchequer.
The court has maintained in that the corruption in Pakistan is akin to a cancer which is metastasising; growing larger year by year at an alarming rate, adding that the roots of corruption are only ingratiating themselves deeper and deeper in this country’s moral fabric as the days pass. We as a nation, however, are content to be enslaved to this Hydra, with no Heracles in sight.
Court has said that the governments come and go, but corruption is the one constant that not only remains but increases in magnitude. The majority of our population call themselves Muslims and proudly claim to be denizens of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Some even go as far to claim that Pakistan is the “citadel of Islam”, but we fail to follow the most basic of the religion’s moral tenets.
The court maintained that appointment of Ayyaz Khan Niazi was contrary to section 12 of the Insurance Ordinance, 2000 and rules framed there under, as non-transparent, illegal and unwarranted.
The court has made it clear that except one of the officers (Tariq Zubair Khan, Section Officer), all others i.e. Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, the then Additional Secretary; Suleman Ghani the then Secretary Commerce; Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the then Commerce Minister; Ismail Qureshi, the then Secretary Establishment; and Ms. Nargis Sethi, the then Acting Principal Secretary to Prime Minister are involved in his appointment and, prima facie, are liable to be dealt with under section 9(a)(vi) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 [as amended by National Accountability Bureau (Amendment) Ordinance, 2002] on account of NICL scam pertaining to Punjab (Lahore) and Sindh (Karachi) where allegedly offences of corruption and corrupt practices have been committed.
Sc has said in its ruling that the notification dated 18.04.2012 transferring Zafar Ahmed Qureshi, Director FIA, prima facie, also involves Malik Muhammad Iqbal, former DG, FIA; Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, Abdul Rauf Chaudhry and Khushood Akhtar Lashari (former DG, FIA, Secretary Interior, Secretary Establishment and Principal Secretary to Prime Minister respectively) as well as Waqar Haider, the then Director FIA, Lahore, as they created hurdles and hampered the smooth and transparent investigation entrusted to Zafar Ahmed Qureshi in NICL scam, pertaining to Lahore.
Thus, prima facie, they are also required to be dealt with under section 9(a)(vi) of NAO, 1999 as they wrongly exercised their authority to benefit Ayyaz Khan Niazi and others from public money, which has been looted through non-transparent transaction from NICL, court ordered.
The court maintained on account of transfer of Zafar Ahmed Qureshi an amount of Rs.420 million due against Mohsin Habib Warraich and others could not be recovered. Likewise, another huge amount has been deposited by the accused persons in bank account of Moonis Elahi with EFG Private Bank Ltd., London having a balance of £1.138 million, in the name of a company owned by him and another account in the name of Beenish Khan (wife of Mohsin Habib Warraich) in Barclays Bank London with a balance of £0.102 million, had not been recovered.
The court said that FIA after transfer of Zafar Ahmed Qureshi failed to retrieve the outstanding amounts which were frozen, but were illegally activated without following the procedure, during the period he remained disassociated from the investigation of the case w.e.f. 19.04.2011 to 13.08.2011.
The court has directed Chairman NAB to have all these cases transferred on his file and proceed in accordance with law, take necessary steps to effect recovery of outstanding amount noted above and also effect the arrest of Mohsin Habib Warraich, Amin Qasim Dada, Khalid Anwar, etc., as early as possible.
The court has said in its verdict that Qamar Zaman Chaudhry and Abdul Rauf Chaudhry have been found liable for contempt of Court vide order 16.06.2012. The plea put forward in reply to show-cause notices under section 17(1) of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 read with Article 204 of the Constitution, are hereby turned down and proceedings are postponed to frame charge against them, for a date to be fixed by the office.
Court in its decision Khushnood Akhtar Lashari, though filed reply of show cause notice for contempt of Court but had not appeared in Court, therefore, proceedings against him be kept pending and process be repeated against him to appear in the Court.
The Suo Motu Case 18 of 2010 stands disposed of along with miscellaneous applications, whereas, Criminal Original Petition No.50 of 2011 against Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, Abdul Rauf Chaudhry and Khushnood Akhtar Lashari is adjourned, court added.
The court has made it clear that contempt of Court cases against Senator A. Rehman Malik and others have been de-linked and ordered to be fixed along with the cases of all other contemnors noted hereinabove, including contempt of Court against Malik Muhammad Iqbal, Ex. DG, FIA as in his case judgment was reserved but now one of the member of the Bench has retired, therefore, his case is also to be heard afresh.