Our team has successfully obtained an acquittal for the contractors who had been indicted in a criminal case arising from the Multan Metro Bus Project.
On 28 February 2023, NAB’s Accountability Court-II, Multan acquitted all 10 contractors from Reference No. 05-M/2019 titled The State vs. Sabir Khan Sadozai.
The reference was filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) back in 2019 on the basis of various discrepancies in the preparation of PC-1 and Engineer’s Estimates for the Multan Metro Bus project by the Multan Development Authority (MDA). NAB contended that the contractors worked in connivance with MDA officials along with the consultant to fraudulently get the contracts for Packages 01 to 5 awarded in their favor. It was further alleged that this caused a loss of PKR 1533.70 million to the national exchequer and therefore, the accused were liable to be tried for the offence of corruption and corrupt practices as provided under Section 9 (a)(iv), (vi) and (xii) punishable under Section 10 (a) of the NAO, 1999.
The accusations leveled against the accused specifically revolved around (i) technical sanction estimates prepared on exaggerated rates resulting in overpayment to contractors; (ii) overpayment to the contractors on the basis of speedy execution of work despite the delayed project completion; (iii) overpayment to the contractors on account of purchase of non-schedule items; (iv) overpayment to the contractors for wooden planks; (v) overpayment to the contractors for temporary sign boards.
The firm was engaged at a belated stage to obtain an acquittal under section 265-K of the Criminal Procedure Code 1898. We argued that there was no probability of conviction as key witnesses for the prosecution had already deposed in favour of the defence by conceding that the contractors had no role in the preparation of PC-1 or in the preparation of the Engineer’s Estimate. The contractors were only doing what was required of them under their contractual obligations which did not constitute any offence. Furthermore, the relevant officials who had acquiesced in the administrative approval had already been acquitted and the other consultants had also been acquitted. Therefore, there was no evidence suggesting any connivance between the petitioners and the co-accused.
Our team argued that the client was entitled to relief based on the principle of justice and the rule of consistency. The arguments were accepted by the court and the contractors were acquitted on merits as well as jurisdiction. The charges were dropped.
ABS & Co’s team was led by Bakhtawar Bilal Soofi who successfully argued the acquittal application on behalf of three contractors. Anza Mahmood and Zeerak Elahi were also involved.