Referee Judge reserves verdict on Dr Asim’s bail plea

Referee Judge reserves  verdict on Dr Asim’s bail plea

KARACHI: Justice Aftab Ahmed Gorar, the referee judge appointed to decide the bail plea of Dr Asim Hussain, a PPP leader and close aide of former president Asif Zardari, reserved his verdict on Monday.

The referee judge reserved the verdict after defense and prosecution lawyers concluded their arguments. The judgment would be pronounced on a date to be fixed by court office later.

While opposing Dr Asim's bail plea, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) lawyer said that the PPP leader did not make a case for bail on medical grounds since he was admitted to a hospital where he was being provided proper treatment. Besides, he argued that it was settled in the verdicts of the apex court that the referee judge could not hear arguments afresh. He requested the judge to dismiss the bail applications.

Dr Asim's counsel, Barrister Latif Khosa, while resting his case on the argument that the life of his client would be in danger if he was not released on medical grounds requested the court grant him bail. All other arrested accused had been given bail, he added. Dr Asim is facing corruption charges for allegedly depriving the public exchequer of Rs 462 million by misusing his authority to get land allotted illegally, encroaching upon the state land for expansion of Dr Ziauddin Hospital, money laundering and receiving kickbacks.

The PPP leader, who has been behind bars since Aug 08, 2015, had filed the applications through his counsel seeking bail in the cases. Earlier, the bail applications of Dr Asim were referred to a referee judge for disposal after the two-member bench of Sindh High Court could not reach a consenting order.

A two-judge bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Farooq Shah and Muhammad Karim Khan Agha, had earlier reserved its verdict on the bail applications.

The two judges issued a split order, deferring from each other in their decisions. A NAB reference alleged that Dr Asim misused his authority to get allotted land illegally, encroached upon the state land for expansion of Dr Ziauddin Hospital. He was also involved in money laundering and receiving kickbacks.

Other accused who are facing charges are former petroleum secretary Muhammad Ejaz Chaudhry, administrator of Ziauddin Medical Centre, Dubai Abdul Hameed, former directors of the Karachi Development Authority Syed Athar Hussain and Masod Haider and Karachi Dock Labour Board's former chief executive officer Safdar Hussain.

Dr Asim Hussain is also facing another reference for illegally awarding multi-billion gas processing contracts to Jamshoro Joint Venture Limited and thus embezzling Rs17 billion.

According to the NAB, the accused allowed the JJVL to process gas at different gas fields without conducting an open auction, signing agreements and memorandums of understanding as required by law, thus causing a loss of Rs17.4 billion to the national exchequer.

Other accused included SSGC managing director Khalid Rehman and former officials Zuhair Siddiqui, Azeem Iqbal, Shoaib Warsi, Yusuf Jamil Ansari and Malik Usman, OGDCL former managing director Basharat Mirza and official, Zahid Bakhtiar and JJVL chief executive officer, Iqbal Z Ahmed.