ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday summoned former president Asif Ali Zardari in a petition seeking pre-arrest bail regarding a call-up notice by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) asking for details of his alleged ownership of an apartment in New York. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamer Farooq heard the pre-arrest bail plea of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Zardari.
The bench, after hearing the arguments, directed the former president to appear before the court in person on Wednesday (today). The IHC told advocate Farooq H Naek that if his client is seeking pre-arrest bail, he should appear before the court. At that Naek replied that Zardari was currently getting treatment in the hospital.
The counsel requested that he should be exempted from the court proceedings.
The bench rejected his plea and directed the former president to appear before the court on July 7, saying if he was given an exemption then it would become a precedent.
The bench, after issuing the directions, adjourned the case until Wednesday.
The anti-corruption watchdog had issued a notice, along with a questionnaire, to the PPP co-chairperson on June 15, seeking details of the apartment he allegedly owns in Belaire, 524 East 72nd Street, 37F, Manhattan, New York.
In the petition, Zardari’s counsel adopted that the notice is baseless and the allegations made therein are based on malafide intentions, so as to malign him.
He submitted that the petitioner is not in ownership of any property in New York including [the] apartment as of date mentioned in the notice.
He contended that to cause harassment to the petitioner and to politically damage his reputation, respondent NAB had issued several call-up notices to Zardari in different matters and all those notices were assailed at different forums including at the IHC.
The petition also mentioned that Zardari was suffering from several ailments and his earlier confinement had made his medical condition worse and the former president was currently under the special care of doctors who were monitoring his health.
The counsel maintained that the petitioner filed the instant petition to safe guard himself against humiliation, harassment, illegal detention, arrest and lodging of false reference by the respondents on illegal, false, baseless, fabricated and concocted inquiry and investigation for obvious malafide reasons and ulterior motives.
He argued that even otherwise, the said call-up notice under Section 19 of NAO, 1999 and questionnaire is without jurisdiction, illegal malafide, violative of provisions of the aforementioned Section of NAO, judgments of the Supreme Court of Pakistan as well as fundamental rights of the petitioner as guaranteed under the Constitution of Pakistan.
Therefore, he prayed before the court to grant Zardari bail before arrest till final conclusion of trial and in the meanwhile, interim bail before arrest be granted.
He also requested the court to declare the said call-up notice issued by the NAB as illegal, malafide, and unconstitutional.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021