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ISLAMABAD: The Accountability Court Islamabad hearing fake bank accounts case, on Thursday, rejected former president Asif Ali Zardari's plea seeking his acquittal in the Rs 8.3 billion suspicious transactions in fake bank accounts case.

Zardari's counsel Farooq H Naek filed acquittal plea under Section 265-D read with Section 256-K code of criminal procedure before Accountability Court-III Judge Syed Ashgar Ali. The court, after hearing arguments of Zardari's counsel, reserved its judgement for some time.

Later, the court, while announcing its reserved judgement, turned down Zardari's plea and decided to indict him and the other accused on October 28. Zardari along with his daughter Aseefa Bhutto Zardari appeared before the court as the court had fixed October 13 for his and the other accused indictment in the case. At the start of the hearing, Zardari's counsel filed an application seeking acquittal of his client.

The court allowed Zardari to leave after marking his attendance. During the hearing, Naek, while arguing before the court said that the charge could not be framed against Zardari after promulgation of the National Accountability (second amendment) Ordinance 2021. Suspicious transactions of Rs 8 billion is a private deal and does not come under the NAB jurisdiction, he added.

Naek said that an allegation relating to Rs 150 million worth of registered sale deeds has been leveled against his client and, as per the case, the amount was paid through bank cheques. The bank cheques did not belong to Zardari, he said.

At this, the judge asked Naek to tell him whether that petition was maintainable or not?

Naek requested the court to issue notice to the NAB and seek its reply, and then he would argue before the court regarding the matter. The judge reserved verdict over maintainability of the petition. Later, while announcing its reserved judgment, rejected Zardari's petition.

According to the application filed by Naek on behalf of Zardari, the allegations against the accused Zardari in the reference is regarding purchase of house no F-33, block-04, Clifton Karachi for a sum Rs 150 million, which has admitted in the reference duly declared in the wealth statement filed before the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and statement of assets and liabilities submitted before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

It says that it is also admitted in the reference that conveyance deed of the said property was duly registered showing sale price paid in cash but it alleged that the payment was made through 18 cheques from joint account of Zain Malik and Mushtaq Ahmed.

The accused has committed no offence come with preview of section 9(a)(ii)(iv) punishable under Section 10 of the NAO-1999, it says.

The petition says that there is neither any loss to the national exchequer nor any misuse of authority committed by the applicant.

It is private civil transaction between seller and purchaser under transfer of property act and contract act as applicable in Pakistan, the petition says.

It further says that on October 7, the National Accountability (second amendment) Ordinance 2021 was promulgated and some amendments has been made in NAO 1999 including Section 4, thereof, vide Section 2.

The provision of the NAB (Second Amendment) Ordinance shall not be applicable to all matters pertaining to federal, provincial or local taxation or any person or entity, who are not directly or indirectly connected with the holder of public office.

"After enforcement of NAB (Second Amendment)Ordinance all inquiries, investigation, trial or proceedings under the ordinance relating to the persons or transactions mentioned in sub-section 2 shall stand transferred to the concerned authorities departments and courts," it says.

It says that after the new ordinance, applicant cannot be proceeded with by this court and trial if any would be illegal. There is no ground for proceeding with the trial of the applicant and charges cannot be framed by this court. He prayed before the court to refrain from framing charges against his client and acquit him.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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