IHC reserves verdict in NAB plea against Safdar’s bail

ISLAMABAD – The Islamabad High Court Thursday reserved its verdict in the petition of National Accountability Bureau seeking judicial custody of Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar by revoking his release on bail.

A division bench of the IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani conducted hearing of the NAB’s petition and reserved the judgment after hearing the arguments of both sides.

During the hearing, NAB Prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi adopted before the court that NAB was directed by the court to execute non-bailable arrest warrants, which it did by arresting the accused.

He contended that the warrants of arrest could not be treated like summons. He said that the order of trial court dated October 9 to release Safdar on bail was illegal as only a high court division bench could grant bail to him under the NAB laws and the trial court had no powers in this regard. The IHC bench questioned the prosecutor that whether NAB always seeks permission from the trial court before arresting an accused.

Upon which the prosecutor replied that they were only praying for judicial custody of Safdar and they made the same request before the trial accountability court.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani remarked that a court can only ensure presence of the accused while hearing and putting an accused behind the bar is the mandate of investigation agency.

The IHC judge said that NAB could arrest the accused at any stage of investigation and it was right of an accused to file a pre-arrest bail application. The bench said that if NAB prosecution wants custody of the accused, it should tell the concerned authorities to issue order in this respect.

Amjad Pervez Advocate, counsel for Captain Safdar contended that the only purpose of non-bailable arrest warrants is to ensure presence of the accused before the court and if he appeared or produced before the court by the investigation agency, he can submit surety bonds to get release under section 19 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The only purpose to ensure presence of an accused before the court is to answer the charge, Safdar’s counsel also said. Earlier, the court censured Captain Safdar for using mobile phone in the courtroom and ordered to confiscate the phone. Safdar had been using mobile phone of another person who was accompanying him. Later, Safdar apologised before the court but the phone was returned after he submitted written apology and owner of the phone submitted Rs1,000 fine.

In this matter, the AC Islamabad had issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Safdar on October 2 and it granted bail to him on October 9 after he was arrested by the NAB officials at Islamabad airport when he arrived there from London.

Before that, the AC had issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Safdar after he did not appear before the court despite court summons.

In this matter, NAB cited Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar and Accountability Court as respondents. In its petition, NAB said that Safdar is an accused in Avenfield apartments corruption reference and on September 14, the AC had summoned him to appear before the court for September 19. After Safdar did not appear before the court, the AC resummoned him for September 26 and even then he did not appear.

On October 2, AC issued non bailable arrest warrants for him. Later, NAB arrested the accused from airport and produced him before the court. The petition said that the AC instead of remanding him to the judicial custody of NAB released him on bail against Rs5 million surety bonds that is unlawful.

NAB adopted that AC had no powers to grant bail to the accused under section 9(b) of the national accountability ordinance (NAO) 1999.

Therefore, it prayed to the court to nullify AC order dated October 9 while declaring it as illegal and without jurisdiction and Safdar may be remanded to the judicial custody of NAB.

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