National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has accused the former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar of playing ‘hide and seek’ with the accountability court conducting his trial in connection with a reference accusing Dar of amassing assets beyond means.
In response to an order of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) through which it stayed proceedings before the trial court, special prosecutor of the country’s top graft buster, Imran Shafique submitted a detailed reply in the IHC on Monday.
The trial court had declared Dar a proclaimed offender and ordered to attach his property documents.
IHC’s division bench, comprising of Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, however, raised questions over the trial court’s orders against Dar and sought arguments to determine if the trial court exercised its discretion in accordance with law; whether orders are sustainable on the touchstone of reasonableness and if initiating proceedings against Dar were in consonance with law.
The questions came during the hearing of Dar’s petition requesting the court to set aside orders of November 11, December 11 and all preceding orders through which the court issued bailable and non-bailable warrants of arrest and later declared him a proclaimed offender within 10 days.
In the reply, the NAB prosecutor said that it is a trite law of the country that a proclaimed offender, absconder or fugitive from law cannot be heard, even against an order of abscondence, unless he surrenders himself before the court of law.
“The petition on this ground alone is not proceedable, hence it is liable to be dismissed,” he stated, adding that it is also a settled law that a writ petition emerging from a criminal matter can’t be filed on the basis of a special power of attorney.
NAB said that the petitioner is bound to disclose his bonafide; which is miserably lacking in the current matter, therefore, the petitioner is debarred from invoking the jurisdiction of the IHC.
The anti-graft body accused Dar of being “guilty of playing hide and seek with the court of competent jurisdiction,” adding that the court was constrained to pass an order taking coercive measures against the accused and that “with such contumacious conduct” he cannot approach the IHC.
Shafique maintained that Dar assailed numerous orders passed in different applications, pertaining to different subjects in one go, in a single writ petition which is not warranted under the law.
In response to the IHC’s questions, the NAB prosecutor has come up with two questions; one, whether the accused was able to make a case for exemption on the basis of medical ground and two, if the appointment of pleader in the case was possible and it was justified to allow the trial to continue “in self-imposed exile of the accused”.
He said that these questions are worth consideration by the court as the answer to the remaining questions revolves around the same.
In the arguments stated in the petition, Shafique said that the last medical report was submitted by the accused on December 5, which is based upon the conclusion of the doctor regarding cardiac problems allegedly faced by the accused.
“Even if taken as gospel truth, and relied upon as sacrosanct, even then the report itself is sufficient to refute the petitioner’s stated cardiac problem,” Shafique stated.
While relying upon a medical report, NAB has concluded that Dar is not suffering from any disease which cannot be treated within the country; he has no major medical issue and life threatening disease, neither is there any restriction on the movement and travel of the accused as suggested by him.
Shafique continued that Dar, through his counsel, has produced seven medical reports before the trial court and all medical reports, if put together, are not only inconsistent and contradictory, rather they are sufficient to expose the malafide intent of the “petitioner who in order to escape the court staged the drama of a serious heart problem.”
He took adjournments spreading over the period of 81 days (11 weeks and 03 days) from the last absence, said Shafique. Adding that the reports are blatantly violating laws of the country from which they have been produced.
He further said, “the accused cannot be given a privileged and extraordinary concession in the matter of a criminal trial.” He added that the appointment of a pleader and the grant of an exemption are at the discretion of the trial court, and cannot be claimed as a matter of right.
The accused should be treated in the same manner in which any other ordinary accused in the country is treated, he said. In addition he said, the appointment of a pleader for an indefinite period, at the wishes of the accused, cannot be acceded to, unless some exceptional and extraordinary incapacitating grounds are agitated “which are miserably lacking in the instant case.”
Shafique said that section 17(c) of the NAB Ordinance has not been enacted in the statute merely as a show-piece, rather its purpose is to cater to such situations. He said that the purpose of the proclamation is to inform the accused about the hearing against him which was duly achieved.
The petition is neither maintainable nor proceedable, NAB prayed, hence the same is liable to be dismissed.
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