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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) on Tuesday reserved its verdict in a case seeking Riba- (Interest) free economy in the country.

The full bench of FSC comprising Chief Justice Muhammad Noor Meskanzai, Justice Dr Syed Muhammad Anwar and Justice Khadim Hussain M Shaikh heard a number of constitutional petitions filed against Riba-based banking system in the country and reserved the decision of the case after completion of arguments of the lawyers of the parties.

During the course of proceedings, Dr Aslam Khaki counsel for the United Bank Limited (UBL) pleaded the court to grant further time as he was unaware about the meeting of the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) with the President of Pakistan.

It remained to be examined whether the schemes of the banks which had been challenged fall within the definition of Riba, he added. The bench responded that no scheme of any bank was challenged before the FSC.

The counsel said that depositing money in a limited bank did not fall under the category of interest as limited bank shared profit and loss. He said if a citizen took a loan and bank charged interest from it, then it was cruelty and usury. “We have to differentiate between interest and indexation,” he added.

Farid Paracha, a leader of Jamaat-e-Islami also appeared before the bench and stated that Pakistan was indebted to the tune of 50,000 billion rupees. It was the responsibility of the court to guide through the Shariah to get the country out of difficulties, he added.

It is pertinent to mention that Riba case was remanded by Shariath Appellate Bench Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2002. The existing bench of the Federal Shariat Court headed by the chief Justice Muhammad Noor Meskanzai took keen and unprecedented interest in this matter.

Around 34 hearings were conducted. Petitioners, their counsels, juris consults, Amicus Curiae, Economists, Experts, scholars, chartered accountants, Attorney General, and Advocate Generals advanced their arguments and the Court heard them with patience. They also gave suggestions for conversion of the existing banking system into Riba-free Islamic Banking system.

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