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SHC dismisses pre-arrest bail of 17 NICVD officials being probed by NAB

SHC dismisses pre-arrest bail of 17 NICVD officials being probed by NAB

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday dismissed the pre-arrest bail applications of 17 senior officials of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) in an inquiry about alleged illegalities, illegal appointments and kickbacks in procurement.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro observed that the relief of interim pre-arrest bail was granted to the petitioners with direction to join investigation, but they had neither provided required details nor requisite documents to the investigating officer.

The interim bail of head of administration NICVD Khalil Ahmed Khan, head of stores retired Lt Rajia Urooj, head of pharmacy Dr Jibran Bin Yousuf, head of information technology Syed Raza Abbas, administrator satellite centres Dr Malik Nasrullah, head of biomedical Junaid Khan, head of marketing Dr Sobia Hussain, head of admin & support services retired Capt Masood-ur-Rehman and head of internal audit NICVD Mohammad Faisal was dismissed.

The bench also turned down pre-arrest bail applications of management consultant NICVD Haider Awan, manager stores Syeda Shumaila Zehra, accountant Syed Tabriz Ahmed, HR manager satellite centres Bilal Naseem, manger OPD services Karim Mumbani, assistant manager procurement Mohammad Azhar, assistant accountant Kamran Baig and Mohammad Ashfaq.

No arrest has been made since none of the petitioners were present in courtroom when the order was announced

However, the National Accountability Bureau could not arrest them on the premises of the high court since none of the petitioners were present in the courtroom when the order was pronounced.

Meanwhile, the bench adjourned the hearing on pre-arrest bail applications of NICVD executive director Nadeem Qamar, chief operating officer Syeda Azra Maqsood and head of human resources Dawar Hussain till April 22.

NAB is probing the alleged illegalities, illegal appointments and kickbacks in procurement during 2014 to 2020 against the management of NICVD and the petitioners had approached the SHC in later part of last year to obtain pre-arrest bail.

The bench in its order observed that despite its repeated directives, the petitioners had not extended cooperation to the IO and alleged that he was harassing them.

“To us it appears to be merely as sweeping and a bald statement not supported by any substance for devising a ploy to evade a course of law, which the petitioners otherwise are obligated to submit,” it added.

The bench further said that on Nov 13, the IO complained about non-appearance and non-cooperation of the petitioners, thus they were directed to furnish all relevant documents to IO in two weeks, but ostensibly it did not disrupt their complacency as they did not appear and on March 16, the IO made a similar complaint and again directions were issued for appearance on particular dates and time.

It said that on March 31, the IO disclosed about unsubstantial appearance of the petitioners and submitting a cyclostyle joint statement revealing mainly about moving an application to the NAB chairman against the IO for transfer of inquiry over alleged harassment.

The bench observed that none of the counsel for the petitioners was able to cite a particular incident of harassment caused by the IO and on the contrary the petitioners’ conduct of not joining the enquiry despite undertaking in disregard to call-up notices and directions of the court, spoke of obvious overture made by them crudely to forestall the course of law.

Earlier, NAB had contended that initially an inquiry against Dr Qamar and other senior officials of NICVD was authorised in 2016, but it was subsequently transferred to the Anti-Corruption Establishment, Sindh.

However, upon receiving further complaints against the management of NICVD, the inquiry was again taken up in NAB-Karachi in 2018 and it sought information regarding appointments, salaries, procurement, etc, from the management of the hospital and after collecting preliminary information a report was sent to the NAB headquarters for authorisation of inquiry and the same was granted in September 2020, it maintained.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2021

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