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Accountability courts return eight referencesThe recent changes brought to the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 have left the accountability courts across the country without jurisdiction to hear certain corruption cases, especially those in which the amount misappropriated is under Rs500 million.

Following the amendments to the accountability law, the accused began moving the relevant courts to return their cases to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) due to a lack of jurisdiction.

The accountability courts in Karachi have thus far allowed such pleas in at least eight references, returning them to the anti-corruption watchdog or transferring them to the relevant forum. Many similar applications are pending disposal.

The cases pertain to cheating the public at large, tax fraud, fake bank accounts, corrupt practices and extorting money from government officials through impersonation.

Seven of the references have been returned by the Accountability Court-VI alone and one by the Accountability Court-I on the grounds that either the amount involved is below the Rs500 million threshold or the number of affected people in “cheating the public at large” cases is less than 100, as required under the recent changes, or both.

Among these references is one filed by the national graft buster against Khalid Hussain Solangi and his accomplices for allegedly cheating and extorting money from government officials by masquerading as NAB officials.

They are accused of extorting a cumulative amount of Rs91.1 million from at least seven government functionaries.

The absconding accused also made threatening calls to former deputy chairman Senate Saleem Mandviwala, MNA Khel Das Kohistani, MPA Nusrat Sehar Abbasi, Shahbaz Taseer, Malir’s deputy commissioner and over a dozen others to extort money but they could not succeed.Of the ill-gotten money, Rs9.4 million was transferred to the absconding accused Solangi, said to be residing in Dubai, by his accomplices through illegal channels.

“It is to be noted that Section 5(s) of the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Act 2022 defines ‘public at large’ as at least 100 persons; however, in the present case the aggrieved persons are less than 100,” Accountability Court-VI Judge Tasneem Sultana observed in her judgement passed on a transfer application filed by co-accused Amir Hussain. The case has been transferred to a session court.

 

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