Court acquits one of main accused in land scam on submission of plea bargain

HYDERABAD:In a land scam worth hundreds of millions of rupees the Accountability Court on Monday has ordered release of one of the main accused on the basis of his submission of the plea bargain.

According to details, the accused Muhammad Hanif Lalani had submitted plea bargain application, returning Rs123.53 million of the ill-gotten money and 22 acres of land to the state. The court issued the order for his release after Lalani transferred the amount through a pay order to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and returned the land to Sindh government in writing. The Deputy Commissioner Jamshoro also verified the land transfer to the court before it ordered the release.

Two other accused persons in the same reference have already signed plea bargain under which Javed Hussain returned Rs182.5 million and Farooq Kambrani Rs16.5 million.

According to details of the scam, NAB filed a reference on July 2, 2018, charging 18 persons for fraudulently changing ownership of 731.28 acres government land in the name of some private owners.

The land in question is located in Deh Babbar Bad, Tapo Hathal Buth, Thano Bula Khan, Jamshoro district. The accused sold that land in 2015 to a leading builder and developer whose projects are located in many districts of Pakistan. The deal was made in consideration for 1,135 files of 500 square yard plots in the planned housing scheme on that land.

The accused Mian Bux and Imam Bux received 300 files, Javed Hussain 373 files and Palari 402 files, as per the reference. The estimated value of the land was Rs2.84 billion while as per the government notified rates, which are always lower than the market rates, the land was worth Rs146.3 million.

The accountability court indicted them on December 15, 2018. The accused government officers included former DC Jamshoro Sohail Adeeb Bachani, the additional DC Habib Ahmed, former Assistant

Commissioners Javed Soomro and Mumtaz Ali Channa, 3 Supervising Tapedars, 2 Mukhtiarkars and the Revenue Surveyor.