ISLAMABAD - Issuing directives to compile asset details in three days in the Haris Steel Mills (HSM) case – also known as Rs9 billion Bank of Punjab (BoP) scam – Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said former BoP president Hamesh Khan and HSM owner Sheikh Afzal could not be kept in jail indefinitely.
“People have lost faith in the state institutions like the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and according to newspaper reports, the performance of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was also in question,” the chief justice remarked while heading a two-judge bench.
The court sought a report over the delay in recovery of default amount from owners of Haris Steel Mills and others. Asad Butt, the counsel for Sheikh Afzal, told the bench that his client’s property in Dubai had been sold by a third party. He appealed to the court to direct NAB to probe the matter. The counsel said his client had paid more than half of the required amount and NAB should provide a schedule for the remaining payment.
The chief justice questioned as to how Rs1.5 billion assets were sold without the consent of owners. He also questioned as to how NAB can perform well abroad since its performance was in question in the county. He condemned poor performance of the NAB and the Salvage Committee. Justice Jawwad S Khawaja was also irked by the lethargy on the part of NAB.
Seeking report from Salvage Committee and NAB over reasons of delay in recovering the outstanding amount from defaulters in three days, the court adjourned the hearing until October 25.
The Haris Steel Mills and its two sister concerns had secured Rs9 billion loan from the Bank of Punjab in connivance with its officials including its then president Hamesh Khan in 2007.
The Chief Justice’s statement is very important in the context of latest developments since its verdict in the Asghar Khan case. PML-N expressed no-trust in FIA the other day. Ch Nisar Ali Khan, the opposition leader in the National Assembly, had said that all are aware of the conduct of the FIA, and his party would not accept any probe by it.