ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court Wednesday extended interim bail to former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur till April 29 in a case pertaining to laundering of billions of rupees through fake bank accounts.

A division bench of the IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani conducted hearing of the petitions moved by the leaders of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) through their counsels and cited the chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and investigative officer as respondents.

The bench also directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to submit their reply regarding the number of inquiries against the PPP co-chairperson as NAB failed to submit its response in this regard.  Justice Aamer asked the NAB official when they would file their reply and the court gave NAB two weeks to file its response. NAB Deputy Prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi assured the court that the reply is ready and would be filed soon.

Justice Farooq remarked NAB should inform the petitioners how many inquiries are underway against them. The NAB official said that there are three inquires and two investigations are pending against Zardari. However, he added that they could not disclose the details of the cases in which summonses have not been issued so far.

NAB ordered to submit its reply

Justice Farooq also objected to Zardari’s arrival at the court along with his supporters and directed Zardari’s counsel Farooq H Naek not to bring party workers in the court on the next hearing.

The bench granted the bail to PPP co-chairman and his sister against surety bond worth of Rs1 million each.

A total of five applications were filed by the PPP leaders’ counsel team – four by Zardari and one by Talpur. The petitions sought pre-arrest bail to pre-empt any attempt by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to take them into custody. The IHC granted bail against surety bonds of Rs1 million each per each application.

In their petitions, they prayed to the court to restrain the bureau from arresting them. In the identical petitions, the former president stated that NAB had served a call-up notice on him to appear on March 20 before a combined investigation team to record his statement with respect to investigation into fake bank accounts.

He added that in order to safeguard himself from mala fide and illegal arrest at the hands of NAB and law enforcing agencies of the country and to enable him to surrender before the competent court of law, he had filed a constitutional petition before the Sindh High Court for protective bail. The SHC on March 19 approved protective bail for him for 10 ten days, he said.

Zardari said that he also appeared before the NAB team which after interrogating him for one hour handed him a questionnaire with the direction to submit reply to the same within ten days.

“At the moment petitioner is not aware that how many cases are registered against him and how many Call Up notices will be issued to him and /or references may be filed against him by the respondents. Till date three Call Up Notices have been issued by the respondents to the petitioner,” said the petition.

“There is every possibility that if petitioner appears before NAB authorities in connection with a Call Up Notice, he may be entangled and arrested in some other case,” the petitioner added.

The petitioner continued that he apprehend his arrest at the hands of the respondents on the basis of Call Up Notices.

Therefore, Zardari requested the court to grant him bail before arrest and in the meanwhile, interim bail before arrest may be granted to the petitioner. He also prayed to the court to direct respondent NAB authorities to submit list of all cases against the petitioner.