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owner, 4 senior CDA officials jailed for unlawful construction of extra storeys of safa gold mall shopping plaza

Safa Gold Mall owner built unlawfully additional storeys of the shopping mall in connivance with CDA officials

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court in Islamabad has convicted the owner of Safa Gold Mall and four officials of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) in connection with the construction of additional storeys in the mall at F-7 unlawfully.

Accountability judge Azam Khan sentenced the mall owner Rana Abdul Qayyum to seven years’ imprisonment with a fine of Rs1 billion, ex-deputy director general CDA Ghulam Murtaza Malik to five years in jail and deputy director Ammar Idrees to three years’ imprisonment.

The court also convicted CDA officials Khalil Ahmed and Khadim Hussain and imposed a fine of Rs100,000 on each of them besides sentencing them to two years in prison. However, these two officials have already completed their jail terms.

Officials of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested the convicts following the announcement of the verdict. The court declared three additional storeys of the mall illegal and directed the CDA to recover its rent from the owner as well.

Earlier, the owner of Safa Gold Mall had filed an application with the NAB chairman, seeking pardon and release under a plea bargain. However, the application was turned down.

Under sub-section (b) of section 25 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), during the pendency of an appeal an accused offers to return to NAB assets or gains acquired or made by them in the course or as a consequence of any offence.

NAB took action in the case after the CDA board in 2017 decided to cancel the plot allotted to Safa Gold Mall over the construction of three illegal storeys and other violations in the building plan.

CDA had auctioned plot number 5 in Jinnah Super Market in 2010, where its health department was once located. But in a highly questionable move, the civic agency converted the health facility into a commercial plot.

According to the prosecution, in the allotment letter, it was clearly defined that the floor-area ratio of the building would be 1:5 with 100pc coverage and the number of storeys was ground-plus four, thus capping the height of the building.

NAB accused Rana Abdul Qayyum of knowingly and with criminal intent in collusion with CDA officials gaining illegal favours and undue benefits which caused the authorities a loss of about Rs1.07 billion.

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