PESHAWAR: The Accountability Court -III, Peshawar, on Friday allowed the NAB authorities to close the investigation against former Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak, former Additional Chief Secretary Khalid Pervaiz, MD Tourism Corporation Mushtaq Khan and others in the Malam Jabba case.
Finally, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) succeeded to wind up the much-publicized Malam Jabba scam after almost four years when the NAB prosecutor informed the court that they had not found any evidence of corruption and malice in the case.
Ironically, the NAB chairman had declared it a classic example of corruption and misuse of authority and ordered an inquiry on January 9, 2018 but later the bureau approved the closure of case.
The Malam Jabba scandal came into limelight on January 7, 2018. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) took three-and-a-half years to complete the investigation into the scandal. The accused were allegedly involved in the illegal lease of 275 acres of protected forest land in Malam Jabba. The main charges included the lease of forest land measuring 270 acres, extension of lease period from 15 to 33 years and award of contract/bidding process.
As per the court verdict, the matter regarding the illegal lease of forest land had been disposed of by the Peshawar High Court, vide order dated 01.10.2020, in W.P. No. 1428-P/2018 by directing the additional chief secretary, KP, to immediately submit the report of the committee, already notified by the provincial government, vide order dated 25.06.2018 to settle the dispute of ownership/title of 270 acres of forest land.
The committee submitted its report to the KP government with the findings that the land in question was federal land and was given prior to the merger, tourism department was the rightful owner and prima facie, the entry in revenue record was erroneous. Subsequently, the cabinet in its meeting held on December 28, 2020, approved the report. The court observed that the matter stood resolved and the subject land had been de-notified.
Similarly, the lease period had also been approved by the cabinet from 15 to 33 years, as such, ex post facto sanction was granted. After examining the case, NAB expressed that no malice and mala fide were found in extending the lease period, nor any loss incurred to the exchequer.
The prosecutor highlighted that the investigation officer had been given enough time to look into the matter deeply and he expressed his confidence regarding the non-availability of any corruption and corrupt practices, the court maintained.
The court ordered that in view of the facts and circumstances coupled with the available record, the request of NAB for closure of the investigation was prima facie valid and genuine to the extent of award of a contract with regard to its irregularities followed by its rectifications.
The NAB authorities may close the investigation against the accused Pervaiz Khattak, ex-chief minister KP, Khalid Pervaiz, ex-Additional Chief Secretary KP, Mushtaq Khan, MD Tourism Corporation KP and others in respect of the subject case.
However, the closure of this particular case shall not affect any other proceedings, departmental or otherwise against the accused or delinquent officials or officers, if already under inquiry or investigation and shall not prevent initiating inquiry or investigation of a new case of corruption, corrupt practices, misuse of authority or otherwise against them.
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