LAHORE - An accountability court on Tuesday once again delayed the indictment of former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and his brother Khawaja Salman Rafique in Paragon City reference, filed by NAB. The court adjourned hearing till Sept 4 and directed the bureau to provide readable reference documents to Khawaja brothers till the next date of hearing.

Accountability Court Judge Syed Jawadul Hassan conducted the reference proceedings wherein Khawaja brothers were produced on expiry of their judicial remand term. The court observed that indictment process should be started as both the brothers were present. However, Khawaja brothers’ counsel Advocate Amjad Parvaiz submitted that many reference documents, provided by the bureau, were unreadable. He requested for delaying the indictment till provision of better copies reference documents.

To which, NAB prosecutor pleaded with the court for initiating indictment process, saying that if some copies were not readable, those could be provided later.  At this, the court asked the counsel for parties to review the reference documents while adjourning the hearing for a short period of time.

Later on, the counsel for parties submitted a detailed list of reference documents which were unreadable.  Subsequently, the court adjourned further proceedings till Sept 4, with a direction to the bureau for providing better copies by the next date of hearing. The court observed that Khawaja brothers would be indicted on the next date of hearing, while extending their judicial remand.

Earlier, the court had fixed August 8 for indictment of the former minister and his brother, but it was deferred till Aug 20 after it was told that Khawaja Saad Rafique was in Islamabad to attend the National Assembly session.

Besides the Khawaja brothers, Nadeem Zia, Umar Zia, and Farhan Ali were also nominated in the reference. The reference stated that the Khawaja brothers, through their ‘benamidars’ and with the abetment of former MPA Qaiser Amin Butt and Nadeem Zia, established a housing project in the name of Air Avenue. The project was later converted into a new housing project namely Paragon City (Pvt) Ltd, which NAB said was an illegal society and not approved by the Lahore Development Authority.

Former railways minister and his brother allegedly received monetary

benefits of Rs58 million and Rs 9 million, respectively, from the society through proxy firms under the garb of consultancy services, it added.

Khawaja brothers were arrested on Dec 11, 2018 by the bureau. A Lahore High Court bench dismissed post-arrest bail petitions of the Khawaja brothers on June 18. However, they had not approached the apex court in the matter yet.