SC removes name of former CJP’s son-in-law from ECL

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Thursday altered its earlier directive of placing the name of Dr Murtaza Amjad — the son-in-law of former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry — on the Exit Control List (ECL), but allowed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to continue with its inquiry into the Eden Housing scam in which Murtaza Amjad and his father are allegedly involved.

In a related development, the absconding owner of the multi-billion company Eden Housing and prime accused in the scam, Dr Amjad, who is the father of Murtaza, has approached NAB with a request for plea bargain.

“Dr Amjad who is hiding in Canada has contacted NAB and sought plea bargain. NAB told him to immediately deposit 34 per cent of the total money involved in the scam before the bureau initiates other modalities of the plea bargain,” an interior ministry source privy to the development told Dawn.

He said Dr Amjad had expressed his desire to enter into plea bargain after the arrest of his son by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Dubai.

At the same time NAB allowed to continue probe into multi-billion housing scam; prime accused seeks plea bargain

The directives on the ECL list were issued by a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar which had taken up a review petition of Dr Amjad against the June 3 Supreme Court orders of placing his name on the ECL. The petitioner also requested the apex court to direct the FIA to allow him to return to Pakistan, besides “seeking protection” during his appearance before NAB.

According to the review petition, Murtaza Amjad had on Sept 26 gone to Dubai to visit his wife and children when he was detained at the local airport. “Since then he is not being allowed to see his wife, and even his lawyer, despite several attempts,” the petition claims.

The petition argued that NAB proceedings against Dr Amjad were the result of mala fide exercise of authority and, as such, liable to be stayed to provide an opportunity to the Amjad family to settle their liabilities without any harassment.

The review petition contended that the placement of Dr Amjad’s name on the ECL was an extreme measure and a restriction on his fundamental rights. “NAB has only initiated an inquiry and the law is having its course,” it argued.

The petition said that Dr Amjad and his family were forced to leave Pakistan.

“The placement of the name of Dr Amjad on the ECL without affording an opportunity of hearing to him is also violative of Articles 15 and 25 of the Constitution,” the petition said.

It requested the Supreme Court to review and recall its earlier directive and restrain NAB from further harassment.

Recently, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told a press conference that Prime Minister Imran Khan had sought a detailed report on this scam.

The scam was unearthed in 2013, but then CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry fixed the case before his bench to, it is believed, provide relief to the in-laws of his daughter. Iftikhar Chaudhry and his son Dr Arsalan, however, denied their involvement in the scam.

According to NAB, more than 11,000 people have been “affected” by this scam. Last month these people held a demonstration outside the Zaman Park residence of Prime Minister Imran Khan, urging him to help them recover their hard-earned money looted by the group that launched the housing scheme.

The government officials concerned had extended an assurance to the affected people that NAB would expedite action against the suspects and take steps to make them return the looted money.

NAB has detected the property owned by the Eden group worth up to Rs20bn and claimed that it would soon compensate the affected people.

All known assets worth billions of rupees and bank accounts in the names of Eden Developers and its owners have been frozen.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2018

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