Bail in school demolition case
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| 10/12/2017 12:00:00 AM
KARACHI: An anti-corruption court granted on Wednesday interim pre-arrest bail to the director general of the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) and an additional secretary in a case regarding demoli-tion of a heritage building in Soldier Bazaar.

KDA chief Samiuddin Siddiqui and Bux Ali Maher, the additional secretary of the cult ure and tourism department, approached the court for pre-arrest bail after the AntiCorruption Establishment (ACE) showed both of them along with culture, tourism and antiquities secretary Ghulam Akbar Leghari as absconders in the final charge-sheet submitted last week in court.

The judge of the provincial anti-corruption court, Iqbal Hussain Maitlo, granted interim bail to both the officials against a surety bond of Rs100,000 each till Thursday (today) when the court will take up the caseto decide the fate of the final charge-sheet.

The ACE has not named five officials of the Sindh revenue department as accused in the final investigation report for what it called want of evidence.

The British-era building, located inside the Jufelhurst School in Soldier Bazaar, was demolished on the night of April 8.

Mr Siddiqui, who was appointed KDA DG last month after his predecessor Syed Nasir Abbas was arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency on charges of fraudulently obtaining a passport and money laundering, has been accused by the ACE of allegedly granting illegal approval of bifur-cation of the said plot in 2012 when he was the deputy commissioner of Karachi East.

The investigating ofEcer has chargesheeted both the senior officials of the culture and tourism department for allegedly manipulating the record and issuing letters to IO and alleged owners of the building in question stating that the property was not declared as a heritage building.

The IO also named alleged owner Sajjad Bashir, FIA Inspector Adnan Ali, Zeeshan, Mohammad Amin, Abid, then mukhtiarkars Zulfiqar Ali and Abdul Ghani Abbasi, then Soldier Bazaar SHO Irshad Soomro and assistant sub-inspector Hakim Ali as accused in the final report.

However, he left out mukhtiarkars Zulfiqar Mangi, Ahmed Memon and surveyor Ghulam Fareed despite the fact that they issued a noobjection certificate for the sale of the property.

The IO claimed that they were not aware of the status of the property as a heritage building at the time of issuing the NOC and even if they were aware then there was no restriction of sale under the Heritage Preservation Act, 1994.

The IO had also not named sub-registrar Zulfiqar Keerio and mulchtiarkar Manshad Shahani for trial since he mentioned in the final report that Keerio had registered the sale deed in accordance with registration laws and Shahani kept an entry in the record of rights as per a court decree.

According to the final investigation report, the government had taken over the Jufelhurst School under its 1972 nationalisation pol-icy and in 2001 the provincial government had notifled that the owners of the property may take over the school within three days otherwise it will be permanently notified as government`s property.

However, the owners had never applied for return of the school and in 2011 suspect Sajjad moved the court against the Sindh government for non-payment of the rent and in 2012 he approached the revenue offices for bifurcation of the plot, it added.

The report further said that the then DC East had approved bifurcation of the property regardless of the fact that the lease tenure of the property expired in 1995 and no such transaction could be made till the renewal of the lease.

The property in question was declared a heritage building by the culture and tourism department in 2016, but in the same year Sajjad managed to get an NOC for the sale of the plot and sold it to Adnan, Abid and Zeeshan and later they demolished a portion of the school as the area police facilitated them.