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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), on Wednesday, issued notices to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in response to the Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ahsan Iqbal’s petition challenging the Accountability Court’s verdict of rejecting his petition seeking acquittal in a corruption reference.

A division bench of the IHC comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz heard the petition moved by the PML-N leader and issued the notices to the NAB.

The bench also directed the respondent to submit the response in this matter and deferred the hearing till April 13 for further proceedings.

In his appeal, the PML-N leader challenged the dismissal of his acquittal plea by the accountability court in the Narowal Sports City Complex reference. He moved the court through his counsel Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Naqvi and cited Chairman NAB and Judge Accountability Court (AC)–III Islamabad as respondents.

The petitioner stated that he filed being aggrieved by the order dated 23 February 2022 passed by the Accountability Court No III Islamabad, whereby, the application filed under Section 265-K, Code of Criminal Procedure CrPC for his acquittal in the NAB reference related to the Narowal Sports City Complex.

Iqbal, in his petition, stated that Article 164 of the Constitution authorized the federal government to release funds for a provincial project. The Narowal Sports City Complex project was initiated with the approval of the federal cabinet, he added. He said the NAB reference was based on “fabricated allegations” and against the facts.

He informed the court that in November 2020, the chairman, NAB, Islamabad, filed the NAB Reference before the Accountability Court No III, Islamabad, pursuant to which, the petitioner was charged by the Accountability Court under Section 9(a) (vi)(xii) and Schedule 5 (the “charge sheet”) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 (the “NA0,1999”).

He contended that the NAB reference and the charge sheet essentially revolves around a public welfare sports infrastructure and facilities project named, “Narowal Sports City” developed in Narowal District, Punjab.

Iqbal contended that in light of the fact that no incriminating evidence was available which is a sine qua non requirement of establishing the charge under Section 9 (a)(vi)(xii) of the NAO, 1999 and there being no allegations pertaining to personal benefit or financial gains attributed to the petitioner, an application under Section 265-K of the CrPC, for acquittal of the petitioner was filed before the Accountability Court, No III, Islamabad. However, the court rejected the said application without consideration of the admitted facts on record and the law.

He added the NAB reference and the charge sheet read with the material placed on record by the prosecution do not even complete the ingredients of an offence in fact and law. Hence, the petitioner is entitled to acquittal.

The petitioner further said the NAB reference and the charge sheet attempt to criminalise actions and decisions which were duly sanctioned by and taken pursuant to the relevant Constitutional provisions. He added that Article 164 of the Constitution expressly empowered the federal government to spend funds on a provincial project, and the said practice was a norm in the governance system of Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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