ISLAMABAD-The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday granted protective bail to former prime minister Shahid KhaqanAbbasi in a reference filed by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against him for making illegal appointment.

A division bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice AtharMinallah and Justice MohsinAkhtarKayani conducted hearing of the petition and granted bail to Abbasi for three weeks.

The bench also accepted protective bail of former secretary petroleum ArshadMirza in the same matter.

The leader of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) approached the court through his counsel Barrister Zafarullah Khan and requested the court to grant protective bail to him so that the petitioner can approach the forums in Karachi for appropriate relief when the nation-wide COVID-19 lockdown is lifted.

It was March 31 when the IHC had granted four-week protective bail to former prime minister Shahid KhaqanAbbasi and former secretary petroleum ArshadMirza in a reference pertaining to the illegal appointment of managing director Pakistan State Oil (PSO).

In his plea, Abbasi stated that the NAB Karachi had issued arrest warrants for him while he is in Islamabad and cannot appear before the accountability court, Karachi, due to lockdown.

The Accountability Court, Karachi had issued non-bailable warrants for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shahid Khaqan in a reference pertaining to illegal appointment of managing director PSO.

The anti-graft watchdog filed second reference against the PML-N leader in the illegal appointment of Imran-ul-Haq as PSO managing director in a Karachi accountability court.

In the reference, the anti-graft watchdog had alleged that Shahid KhaqanAbbasi and ArshadMirza had misused their authority while appointing Sheikh ImranulHaq as managing director and YaqoobSattar deputy managing director (finance) of the PSO in violation of rules and regulations.

It added that the Supreme Court had, while hearing a case on July 14, 2018, ordered the anti-graft watchdog to probe the appointment of both the officers. Later, an inquiry report was submitted to the Supreme Court. It reportedly said that evidence showed that the appointment of Sheikh ImranulHaq was illegal and not made in a transparent manner. The report said that there was evidence that Haq had a conflict of interest with the PSO due to an LNG agreement with his former employer (Engro Corporation).

The reference accused Haq of having misused his authority by promoting Sattar to the post of deputy managing director within a month of his joining.

In the reference, NAB claimed that the suspects caused losses to the tune of Rs138.96 million to the national exchequer. Therefore, they allegedly committed offences punishable under Sections 9(a), (4), (6) and (12) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, it added.