ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday extended pre-arrest bail to former president and co-chairperson of Pakistan Peoples 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.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamer Farooq heard the case and extended pre-arrest bail to Zardari till November 9.
During the hearing, the IHC bench sought opinion from defence lawyer Farooq H Naek and NAB's prosecutor regarding the amendment in the NAB Ordinance 1999.
The bench asked whether the bail cases would be shifted to the special courts after the promulgation of fresh ordinance.
The prosecutor replied that all bail cases should be dismissed after the introduction of the new law.
The court instructed the prosecutor to study the new ordinance and also brief the NAB investigation officer about it.
Justice Farooq asked whether the powers of the NAB for arresting the accused were withdrawn. To this, Naek responded that the new amendments had increased the powers of the anti-graft body, adding that now the names of the accused would be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) by the NAB officials.
He further said that it would be seen later, if the ordinance got approval from the Parliament or not.
Upon that the chief justice remarked that the system would be streamed lined when the Parliament would be strengthened more. Naek said the parliamentary committees had no powers.
Then, the court granted one-day exemption from hearing to the accused, Zardari, on medical grounds, and deferred the hearing of the case till November 9th for further proceedings.
In this matter, 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, Naek has contended that the notice is baseless and the allegations made therein are based on mala fide 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 further 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 various 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 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 mala fide reasons and "ulterior motives."
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021