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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), on Wednesday, granted pre-arrest bail to former president and co-chairperson of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari, in a case related to a call-up notice issued by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) asking details of his alleged ownership of an apartment in New York.

The former president moved the court through his counsel Farooq H Naek and cited chairman NAB, DG Rawalpindi, and the investigation officer as respondents in this matter. His medical report from the Ziauddin Hospital was also attached with the plea.

A division bench of Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamer Farooq heard the case and granted him bail till July 28 against surety bonds worth Rs500,000.

The court also issued notices to the NAB seeking its response in this matter and deferred the proceedings.

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 had 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 had 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 had 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 had maintained that the petitioner filed the instant petition to safeguard 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 had 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 had 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


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