ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court Thursday observed that issuance of wrong arrest warrants by the National Accountability Bureau (MAB) is also corruption.

Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah made this observation while hearing post-arrest bail petitions filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

A two-member bench of IHC comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Lubna Pervez resumed the hearing of the case.

During the hearing, Barrister Zafarullah, the counsel for Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, while NAB prosecutor Jehanzeb Bharwan appeared before the court.

Justice Athar remarked that this should also be decided that how much authority the NAB Chairman has to issue arrest warrants in the light of evidences.

He observed, “To issue wrong arrest warrants is also corruption and NAB should satisfy the court that why was the arrest of suspect necessary?” The counsel of Abbasi informed the court that his client was arrested upon the photocopy of arrest warrants and he was kept into death cell.

At this, the Chief Justice asked, “why you have kept Abbasi into death cell?”

The NAB prosecutor said that Abbasi was in Adiala Jail and there was no information of keeping him in the death cell. The bench gave NAB a week time to confirm whether the incumbent government is using the same terms and conditions applied by Abbasi for the LNG deal.

The court asked the NAB investigating officer if the ruling party’s LNG deal was based on conditions similar to those set by Abbasi. Bharwana maintained that an interim reference had been filed against Abbasi.

Zafarullah responded by pointing out that the bureau was yet to prove bribe or corruption against him. “We have evidence,” asserted Bharwana.

Justice Athar observed that the impact of an arrest in the society and remarked who should be held responsible for the humiliation caused by NAB’s arrest.

He asked whether arresting individuals has ended corruption.

Later, the court deferred the hearing till February 20 for further proceedings.

Meanwhile, the same bench aso questioned the circumstances under which the NAB chairman issued arrest warrants for PML-N leader and former planning minister Ahsan Iqbal.

The IHC observed that it would issue a separate order on NAB’s powers to arrest suspects.

When Bharwana informed the bench that the inquiry against Iqbal was in the preliminary stage, Justice Athar asked what extraordinary circumstances had compelled the bureau chairman to issue arrest warrants.

He asked, was the suspect trying to escape? He also directed the NAB prosecutor to satisfy the court on why Iqbal could not be probed without being detained.

The judge remarked that every suspect was innocent until proven guilty.

Bharwana said the anti-graft watchdog was apprehensive that Iqbal would tamper records and witness statements.

The PML-N leader’s counsel, however, dismissed the claim, pointing out that Iqbal had appeared in every call to notice.

He also maintained that the bureau had not proven any bribe or other allegations against his client.

The bench adjourned the proceedings till February 20.

Similarly, the bail plea filed by Azam Nazeer Tarar on behalf of Iqbal, maintained that the allegations are “false, frivolous and absurd” and the former planning minister has been arrested due to “political victimization being the PML-N secretary-general”.

The petition argued that the anti-graft watchdog has “no evidence” against Iqbal.