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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday extended stay order against the indictment of former president Asif Ali Zardari in Rs8.3 billion suspicious transactions in fake bank accounts case.

A division bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamer Farooq heard a petition filed by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman against the Islamabad accountability court's order dated October 14 of rejecting his acquittal plea in the case.

During the hearing, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor submitted an application and sought more time to file its reply in the petition. The court accepted his plea and deferred the case till November 23rd for further proceedings.

The bench also restrained the trial court from framing charges against him till further order. Zardari's counsel Farooq H Naek stated in the petition that he moved an acquittal plea under Section 265-D read with Section 256-K code of criminal procedure before Accountability Court-III judge Syed Asghar Ali but the court turned down Zardari's plea and decided to indict him and the other accused on October 28.

According to the petition 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 of Rs150 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 added 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 petition also read that the accused has committed no offence come with preview of Section 9(a)(ii)(iv) punishable under Section 10 of the NAO-1999. It continued that there is neither any loss to the national exchequer nor any misuse of authority committed by the applicant and it is private civil transaction between seller and purchaser under transfer of property act and contract act as applicable in Pakistan.

Petitioner's counsel argued that while passing the order dated October 14, the AC failed to appreciate that the National Accountability (second amendment) Ordinance 2021 has been promulgated and some amendments has been made in the NAO 1999 including Section 4, thereof, vide Section 2.

He added that 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.

He maintained that after enforcement of the 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.

Therefore, he prayed before the court to declare the said AC order as mala fide, illegal, null and void ab initio, while suspending the operation of the said order. He also requested the court to restrain the AC from framing charge against the petitioner and acquit him in the said reference.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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