Monday, November 29, 2021

Ashiana housing case: Court reserves verdict on acquittal plea of co-accused

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LAHORE: An accountability court in Lahore has reserved its verdict on the acquittal plea of co-accused, Shahid and Chaudhry Sadiq, in the Ashiana housing scandal case, ARY News reported on Tuesday.

The accountability court’s judge Amjad Nazir Chaudhry heard the case related to the Ashiana housing scandal today. The Opposition Leader in the National Assembly (NA) Shehbaz Sharif and former director-general (DG) of Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Ahad Cheema produced before the court.

Judge Amjad Nazir Chaudhry expressed displeasure over the crowd in the courtroom and left to his chamber. He resumed the hearing after reducing the number of people from the court.

Read: Testimonies of two witnesses recorded in Ashiana housing scam case

During the hearing, Shehbaz Sharif said that those who have changed the bids were not arrested by the government. He added that the then Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) led government had caught the dacoity prior to a notice taken by the National Accountability.

Sharif said that the then PML-N government had conducted an inquiry through Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE). He added that he could not bear the baseless allegations of corruption and dishonesty.

Later, the court reserved the verdict in the acquittal plea of co-accused in the case and summoned more witnesses. The hearing was adjourned till March 17.

Read: Five witnesses cross-examined in Ashiana housing scam case

Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz central leaders including Rana Sanaullah, Ameer Muqaam, Attaullah Tarar and others were also present in the hearing. The leaders held consultations with the PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif regarding the current political situation in the courtroom.

Ashiana Housing Scheme reference

In the NAB reference, Shehbaz Sharif had been accused of misusing his authority to illegally issue directives for cancellation of the contract with regard to the housing project in 2014.

In March 2014, the former chief minister had visited the Ashiana-e-Iqbal project site and halted its bidding process, according to the reference.

Read: Shehbaz Sharif’s daughter, son-in-law declared proclaimed offenders

The Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) was looking after the project, but Mr Sharif after visiting the site decided to assign the project to the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) which resulted in the award of the contract to the Lahore Casa Developers (JV), causing Rs715m loss to the exchequer, the reference reads.

The NAB had arrested Shehbaz Sharif in the scam on October 5, 2018, inside its Lahore office where he had appeared after being summoned for questioning in connection with a probe into the Saaf Pani Company scam.

According to NAB, “the contract for the housing scheme was won by a construction company titled Chaudhry Latif and Sons but former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif and his aides awarded the Rs 14 billion contract to Lahore Casa Developers – a proxy group of Paragon City (Pvt) Limited, which is said to be owned by then Railways Minister Saad Rafique”.

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