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ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prayed before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to reject Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal’s petition seeking acquittal in a corruption reference.

A division bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz heard the petition moved by Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ahsan Iqbal.

The NAB prosecutor submitted its response in the appeal of Ahsan against the AC’s verdict and adopted the stance that the department wanted to submit more documents in the case. The prosecutor stated that the accused had been indicted in the reference and the court had testified three witnesses in the case.

Justice Minallah remarked that the reference of the NAB was basically a challan and the reference was supposed to be filed after the completion of investigation. He added that the trial should be completed within 30 days as per the law.

The NAB prosecutor said that the reference had alleged Ahsan Iqbal for misuse of his powers in the Narowal Sports City Complex project. The chief justice then asked the NAB prosecutor to tell how a reference is prepared in light of this court’s verdict in Masood Chishti case. He further said that the court would accept the acquittal plea, if the bureau fails to answer.

Then, the federal minister came to the rostrum and stated that he had offered the NAB to prove increase in his assets after he joined politics. He said that the NAB was just damaging his repute.

Later, the IHC bench deferred the hearing of the case till May 11 for further proceedings.

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

The petitioner stated that he filed the appeal being aggrieved by the order dated 23.02.2022 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 Narowal Sports City Complex reference.

Iqbal, in his petition, stated that Article 164 of the Constitution authorised 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 that the NAB reference was based on fabricated allegations and was against the facts.

He informed the court that in November 2020, the chairman, National Accountability Bureau, 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 adopted the stance 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 NA0,1999 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.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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