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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Anti-Corruption Court Sentences Four for Land Fraud

The Anti-Corruption Rawalpindi Court sentenced four individuals to 96 years in prison and fined them 5.8 million Rs for defrauding a British Pakistani family through land forgery and manipulation.

A District and Sessions Judge of the Anti-Corruption Rawalpindi Court has handed down 96 years of rigorous imprisonment and a total fine of 5.8 million Rs to four individuals, including two revenue officials. They were found guilty of cheating, manipulation, and forging fraudulent ownership papers to defraud a prominent British Pakistani family.

Case Details

Anti-Corruption Court Special Judge Ali Nawaz sentenced Aurangzeb Patwari, Malik Muhammad Safdar, Muhammad Almas Abbasi, Haq Nawaz Abbasi, and Raja Shahid Ahmed for fraudulently occupying lands through forged documents. The lands belonged to British Pakistani businessman Nisar Ahmad Afzal. Previously out on bail, the convicts have been transferred to Central Jail Adiyala following the damning judgment.

The fraud case was registered in November 2021 in Rawalpindi by Hamzah Afzal of Edgbaston in Birmingham and his father Nisar Afzal. They reported the fraudulent occupation of their lands in Rawalpindi District’s Rajar Tehsil. Revenue officials Aurangzeb Patwari and Malik Muhammad Safdar conspired to forge the land records, transferring ownership to three men with powerful connections: Almas Abbasi, Haq Nawaz Abbasi, and Raja Shahid. These transfers were facilitated through criminal collusion with land record officials.

Forensic Investigation

The complainants filed an application with the director-general of Anti-Corruption Lahore (Punjab). A forensic report prepared by the Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) and reviewed by The News confirmed tampering with the land registry. The investigation revealed forged signatures and additional pages inserted into the original land record. The mutation of the land was not verified by Girdawar, a legal prerequisite, and names of Almas, Haq Nawaz, and Raja Shahid were inserted subsequently without being entered in Roznamcha Waqiati.

Initially, Raja Shahid, Almas Abbasi, and Haq Nawaz denied involvement in the forgery scheme. However, the forensic investigation by Anti-Corruption Lahore (Punjab) established their guilt in tampering with papers, committing fraud, and manipulating documents to seize an expensive piece of land valued at around three billion Rupees (approximately £10 million).

Court’s Judgment

Special Judge Ali Nawaz concluded that the accused had manipulated and forged documents to defraud overseas Pakistani Nisar Afzal and his family. The sentences included 17 years and a 1.2 million Rs fine for Raja Shahid and Haq Nawaz Abbasi each. Aurangzeb Patwari received 31 years and a 1.7 million Rs fine on five counts of criminal misconduct, while Muhammad Safdar Naib Tehseeldar was sentenced to 31 years and fined 1.7 million Rs. Almas Abbasi, the main accused, died during the trial in December 2023.

The judgment noted discrepancies in document entries, such as the use of different ink colors and the presence of cuttings in a sanction order dated May 16, 2005. The handwriting verification confirmed that the signatures attributed to Ghulam Mujtaba Naib Tehsildar were forged. This supported the claim that he never sanctioned the mutations presented by Aurangzeb, the former circle Patwari.

Nisar Afzal has the option to initiate criminal proceedings against the convicted and can also claim damages under the relevant law in the civil court.

The judge ruled: “I am of the considered view that the accused persons had committed cheating, fraud, manipulation, prepared fake documents with the purpose and intention to get wrongful loss to the complainant and unlawful gain for them.

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Last year, Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) dropped a mortgage fraud case against Nisar Afzal after failing to establish sufficient evidence. Afzal had left for Pakistan around 15 years ago after being charged. He argued that he was victimized in a case where he had no role. The SFO eventually accepted the lack of evidence and dropped the case.

Nisar Afzal expressed relief following the judgment, stating: “I am relieved that finally justice has been done. This was a case of financial terrorism. At the trial, we established through a record of transactions that I owned the land through completely rightful means. The accused were proven to be cheaters, liars, and scammers during the investigation and the trial, but my time and resources were wasted for several years to expose the fraud.”

He further added: “I suffered so much that some of my family members left for the UK, faced with threats to kill by the accused. This was a case of daylight robbery. I am thankful to the court and the prosecution for giving me justice. Overseas Pakistanis are a great asset, and this should not happen to them or anyone else.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article was received directly from the reporter.