ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court yesterday reserved its verdict in a petition of Pakistan People’s Party leaders, Arbab Alamgir and his wife Asma Arbab Alamgir, seeking protective bail in a corruption reference filed by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against them for having illegal assets.

A division bench of the IHC, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, reserved the judgment over maintainability of the petitions moved by the PPP leaders.

Barrister Masroor Shah, the counsel for the petitioners, contended before the court that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa NAB chief, during a TV interview, had said the couple would be immediately arrested after they landed in Pakistan. He added the reason they needed protection from being arrested at the airport was that they intended to come back to Pakistan.

During the hearing, the court questioned whether protective bail could be granted without surrendering before the court. Masroor Shah replied his clients wanted to join the NAB inquiry initiated against them in a case of making illegal assets, but they were being harassed before their coming back to the country from abroad.

The counsel added these statements had given rise to apprehensions that the NAB’s “call-up notices” were a mere ploy to trap them upon their return to Pakistan. He contended that his clients wanted to return to the country, appear before a joint investigation team (JIT) and record their statements.

He cited the case of former Sindh information minister Sharjeel Memon who had sought protective bail from the IHC through his lawyer on March 15. The bench initially noted that bail application could not be entertained unless the petitioner surrendered before the court. Later, the court permitted Memon to surrender before the court with directions “the petitioner shall not be arrested until his surrender before this court”.

Barrister Masroor contended the petitioners’ case was similar in nature and that they should be given anticipatory bail so that they could surrender before the court. He prayed to the bench to restrain the respondents from harassing the petitioners and grant them protective bail for a few days so as that they could approach the court concerned and appear before the JIT.

He further requested the court to restrain the respondents from taking any adverse or coercive measures without the permission of the court.