Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) team on Tuesday (July 30) interrogated ousted premier Nawaz Sharif in Kot Lakhpat prison in a case pertaining to an alleged illegal allotment of a property attached to the shrine of Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Masud Ganj Shakar in Pakpattan Sharif.
The anti-corruption watchdog quizzed Sharif for an hour and placed documents dated back to 1985 in front of him. “The documents are 34-years-old. I do not remember anything,” responded the former prime minister when the team asked him if he gave an advertisement in the newspaper regarding the allotment.
“On what grounds was the land allotted and which officers issued the orders for the allotment?” asked the NAB team. “On what basis the land was allotted to Dewan Qutub?” questioned the team. According to sources, the former prime minister reiterated that he did not remember as the case was decades old; however all legal requirements were completed.
“I had fulfilled all the legal requirements but I do not remember the details. I had worked under the parameters of the law and the Constitution and never misused my authority. I have always served the country,” Sharif added. “I would further respond over the matter after consulting my legal team.” The ACE team handed over a questionnaire to Sharif and returned.
In February, Mr Sharif requested the SCP to reject the report filed by the JIT against him in the case.
As per the revenue record from 1947 to 1958, Dewan Ghulam Qutab and his family were considered owners of the shrine’s land. The family sold the land to different people until Jan 1, 1970, when the Punjab government notified that Auqaf Department as the rightful owner of the land and assigned Dewans the role of custodian of the shrine.
When Dewans moved the court, the Lahore High Court decided against them. In 1986, the government withdrew its 1970 notification and the Dewans reciprocated by withdrawing their appeal from the Lahore High Court against the decision. This withdrawal of notification allowed the Dewans to resume their land selling business and the revenue department issued ownership rights to all buyers. After some hearings, the Supreme Court declared notification of Aug 28, 1986, illegal and nullified all land deals done since then. The decision reportedly affected 100,000 residents of different localities. The Dewans filed a review petition with the Supreme Court against its 2015 decision which remained pending.
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