ISLAMABAD -  The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday turned down the petition of former finance minister Ishaq Dar challenging various orders of the accountability court, including bailable/non-bailable arrest warrants, declaring him an absconder, proclaimed offender and attachment of his properties.

A dual bench of the IHC comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, conducted hearing of Dar’s petition and rejected the same.

After the dismissal of Dar’s petition, the stay order granted by the same bench on December 20 stood vacated and now the accountability court would resume hearing against him in the corruption reference, assets and funds beyond the known sources of income today (Thursday).

While rejecting the petition, the bench remarked the petitioner’s medical report dated January 11 does not say that he is unable to travel.

Furthermore, he can use an air ambulance to reach here in Pakistan and can also avail himself of excellent medical facilities.

During the hearing, a legal counsel for Dar contended that it is the right of his client to get treatment from any doctor of his choice. The bench remarked it seems the petitioner has no trust in the capabilities of medical practitioners in Pakistan. It also expressed annoyance over a medical report that advised Dar a bed rest for six weeks.

Earlier, the same division bench on December 20 stayed proceedings in the corruption reference pending against Dar until January 17.

Issuing the stay order, the IHC bench had directed the NAB’s prosecution team and Dar’s counsel to present arguments whether a trial could be conducted in a situation where a single accused is under trial and not appearing before the court.

The IHC bench had also raised questions why the petitioner was denied appointment of a substitute pleader and why the NAB did not get his medical reports verified.

The former finance minister, in his petition, had taken the plea that he was not wilfully avoiding court proceedings and was under cardiac treatment in London. He had produced attested medical reports before the AC through his counsel.

The trial court directed NAB to get these reports verified. Dar maintained in the petition that NAB did not get the medical reports verified.

In response to Dar’s petition, NAB, through its special prosecutor Imran Shafique, submitted comments on January 15. In its reply, the bureau said the accused was playing hide and seek with the trial court deliberately to avoid proceedings with mala fide intention. His medical reports were not as per the law and were liable to be discarded. Even if these reports were treated true, Dar was suffering from no serious illness and doctors had put no restrictions on his travel, the NAB affirmed.

The NAB informed the court that Dar is not hospitalized and is living at 16 Avenfield House at Park Lane from where he occasionally goes for a medical check-up.

The NAB said it is law of the country that a proclaimed offender, absconder and fugitive cannot be heard unless he surrenders before a court of law.

According to the reply, Dar is guilty of playing hide and seek with the accountability court and for this reason the AC was compelled to issue an order for taking coercive measures against him. For filing a writ petition before a high court, Dar has to prove his bona fide intention and, in this particular case, the accused with contumacious attitude cannot claim relief.

The NAB said this petition, being not maintainable, is liable to be dismissed. It added the accused has assailed the several orders passed by the AC in a single writ petition, which is neither an exercise nor warranted under the law.

The reply said Dar failed to make a case for exemption on medical grounds as his doctor concluded in the report: “He does not require any cardiac surgery at the moment, but I strongly recommend active cardiology management”.

His doctors also ruled out the possibility of any spinal problems. Furthermore, Dar is not suffering from any disease which is not curable in Pakistan, the NAB contended, adding no major life-threatening disease was diagnosed and doctors put no restrictions on his travel. All medical reports of Ishaq Dar, if put together, are inconsistent with one another and expose the drama he has staged to avoid court proceedings, it argued.

The NAB added the grant of exemption and appointment of a pleader are the discretionary powers with the trial court. Moreover, under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), an accountability court can dispense with any provision of Criminal Procedure Code and, for that reason the AC curtailed a period from 30 to 10 days declaring Dar a proclaimed offender. The NAB prayed to the court to dismiss the petition, being devoid of merits.

Keeping in view the arguments of the NAB, the IHC dual bench rejected the petition of the former finance minister.

 

SHAHID RAO