Ex-minister Kazmi, 2 others acquitted in Hajj corruption case

Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday allowing appeals of the former Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Hamid Kazmi, former DG Haj Rao Shakeel and former Joint Secretary Ministry of Religious Affairs Aftabul Islam Raja acquitted all the three from corruption charges in 2009 Hajj corruption scandal.
A court of special judge central on June 3, 2016 had awarded Kazmi and Aftab 16 year-imprisonment each. Rao Shakeel former Director Hajj was awarded 40-year jail while the three of them were also ordered to pay Rs150 million each.
On Monday, the IHC bench through a short order allowed appeals of the three accused against the Special Judge’s orders citing lack of evidence. The detailed judgment is yet to come. This case had been remanded back to IHC by the apex Supreme Court with the directions to conclude the matter after day-to-day hearings.
The petitioner Kazmi had adopted in his appeal that none of the prosecution witnesses had insinuated him with any malpractice and his conviction was based on fanciful, arbitrary, capricious and absolutely conjectural hypothesis.
The petition also said that according to the prosecution’s own version, the appellant (Kazmi) being minister had a supervisory role in making arrangements for the Hajj pilgrims but had had nothing to do with the hiring of buildings and making payments of rent to the building owners yet the trial court proceeded to hold appellant guilty.
Kazmi’s legal counsel Sardar Latif Khosa while arguing on different dates of hearing had contended that his client had been punished for his supervisory role.
From prosecution side FIA on different dates of hearing had argued that Hamid Saeed Kazmi had been on a visit to Saudi Arabia where he examined the arrangements. The court of special judge central found him guilty on account of approving under construction buildings without washrooms and that too in connivance with his front man, Ahmed Faiz. FIA prosecutor had also submitted Kazmi photos with Ahmed Faiz in Saudi Arabia.