ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court Tuesday granted interim pre-arrest bail to former finance minister Miftah Ismail in the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) case.

A division bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice IHC Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb conducted hearing of the petition of Miftah and granted him interim pre-arrest bail till May against the two surety bonds worth of Rs 0.5 million each.

The IHC dual bench also issued notices to National Accountability Bureau directing it to submit its reply in this matter.

In his petition, the former finance minister prayed to the court to restrain the NAB from arresting him and sought a pre-arrest bail. He expressed apprehensions that NAB might arrest him which would be disgraceful and humiliating for him.

Miftah explained in his petition that why NAB was after him and said that when the deal for LNG supply was being finalised, he was working as non-executive director/chairman of the Board of Directors of the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) for a limited time period from Oct 30, 2013 to Oct 18, 2017.

NAB asked to submit its reply

He added that in his role as a non-executive chairman, the petitioner as per standard practice relied upon the advice and recommendations received from the Board of Directors from the executive or from the Inter State Gas System (ISGS), the agency responsible for carrying out the tender process.

The former minister asserted that he was not responsible for evaluating any bids received and did not share in the executive responsibilities of due diligence as his role was merely of non-executive director.

He added that the LNG project at the time of award of tender was extremely price competitive.

The petitioner stated that NAB had issued a call up notice on January 1, 2019 and he had appeared before the investigation officer to explain his position. He, however, said that NAB summoned him again and he procured a protective bail from the Sindh High Court (SHC), which would expire by April 18.

The former finance minister alleged that the actions of NAB seem to form part of a targeted campaign that has spread fear and intimidation amongst the professional intelligentsia of the country, owing to which the administrative and bureaucratic machinery of the country has been crippled. Such effects of actions of NAB are only amplified by the fact that Respondent No. 2 rarely has technical know-how or expertise to delve into the minutiae and understand the myriad details that are at the heart of any large project or commercial undertaking.

He petition stated: “Furthermore, the actions of those officials, such as the petitioner, who served under previous political dispensation, seem to be under the scrutiny of the NAB for politically motivated, mala fide and extraneous reasons.”