Friday, June 02, 2023
LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) President Parvez Elahi was arrested again on Friday minutes after a Lahore court ordered to release him in an embezzlement case.
The PTI leader has been re-arrested in a corruption case registered against him in Gujranwala by Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Punjab.
The former Punjab chief minister was arrested a day earlier in connection with a case involving Rs70 million in corruption in development funds allocated for the Gujrat district.
Judicial Magistrate Ghulam Murtaza Virk issued the release orders while announcing the verdict he had reserved on ACE's plea seeking Elahi's 14-day physical remand.
"Parvez Elahi should be released if he is not required in any other criminal case," the verdict stated.
According to anti-corruption sources, Elahi is being moved to Gujranwala.
The sources further said that a team of elite forces has been deployed for the former CM's transfer. They added that two cases of corruption worth billions of rupees have been registered against Elahi in Gujranwala and Gujarat.
"Elahi's bail was cancelled in the Gujranwala case on June 1," claimed the sources.
The ACE officials said that the PTI leader will be presented before an anti-corruption court tomorrow (Saturday).
At the outset of the hearing, Elahi was produced before a district court.
The lawyer for ACE Punjab said that the construction of the road in Gujrat was approved on September 20, 2022.
He claimed that it caused a loss of Rs268 million to the national exchequer.
"Bogus payments of Rs35 million were also made while bogus payments of Rs40 million were made for the [construction material]," the lawyer added.
He also said bids were made even before the approval of the project.
The counsel continued to say that bogus payments were made for the construction and repair of 17km, 22km and 57km of roads. "Illegal contracts were given for the construction of roads in Lala Musa, Dinga and other places".
The lawyer further added: "A total of loss Rs1,229 million was made in all projects."
The court inquired who was investigated among those who were given the contracts, he added.
"Where is the internal inquiry of this issue?” the magistrate asked.
The lawyer replied that the inquiry was initiated as per the rules. He added that the anti-corruption prepared the final report on April 10.
Starting the arguments, Elahi’s counsel Advocate Rana Intizar said: "It is unknown on whose instance was the case registered."
"They used to call Sohail Abbas as Parvez Elahi's frontman," he said, adding that the Gujranwala court has discharged Abbas from the case.
Advocate Intizar said that the anti-corruption department has registered another case in Lahore in which Abbas, Muhammad Khan Bhatti and others were made accused.
"Five cases are filed against Elahi in different districts of Punjab," he added. He also informed the court that all the development projects initiated were under the budget.
Intizar said that there was a one-year gap between the registration of the case and the date of occurrence.
He also argued that a case was filed against his client without any inquiry and notice to the former chief minister. “Documents related to all the projects are available.”
The judge remarked that the decision will be made as per the law after hearing the arguments from both sides.
At this, Elahi’s counsel said that the ACE is bringing new laws, adding that they will appoint their own judge to decide the case.
“Rs360 million were paid to contractors on January 17, 2023,” he said, adding that the payment was made when Interim Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi was ruling in the province.
In violation of the rules, an officer of the ACE was doing technical inquiry in the case, however, the report can only be prepared by S&W, argued the lawyer.
After the completion of arguments by both sides, the court reserved its judgement on the plea seeking physical remand of the former chief minister.
It should be noted that two cases have been registered in Gujranwala against the former Punjab chief minister on the charges of receiving kickbacks in awarding contracts while one case has been lodged in Lahore against the former chief minister.
Earlier, a special judge of the anti-corruption court in Lahore issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Elahi, ordering authorities to produce him by June 2. Two arrest warrants have been issued for the PTI leader. The first one was issued on May 25 after the cancellation of bail while the second one on May 26.
In April, the ACE Gujranwala filed a case against the PTI president citing a report based on sources, in which the former Punjab CM was accused of taking a Rs2 billion bribe for the contract of a development scheme.
In another case, an FIR No 6/23 was registered against Elahi for taking a bribe of Rs120 million from an international organisation — a Turkish company.
The anti-corruption court judge also declared Elahi’s medical certificate as bogus which claimed that he had been experiencing chest pain.