IHC bars AC from declaring Ishaq Dar PO

ISLAMABAD –  Islamabad High Court on Wednesday barred Accountability Court from declaring former finance minister Ishaq Dar as proclaimed offender in the assets reference.

A divisional bench of IHC, comprising Justice Athar Minhallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, stayed till January 17, 2018 the Accountability Court’s decision while hearing Dar’s petition challenging the accountability court’s decision of declaring him proclaimed absconder

During the hearing, Qazi Misbah, the counsel for Ishaq Dar, argued before the court that his client was suffering from cardiac problem and was currently in London for treatment.

He adopted that the accountability court continued its proceedings against Dar despite the submission of medical certificate to the court.

The counsel contended that the accountability court was conducting trial of his client in his absence and recording statements of prosecution witnesses.

He said that his client was not avoiding the court trial against him but he wanted trial through his representative due to his ailment.

In his counter arguments, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor Imran Shafique maintained that the accused had no such sickness that could prevent him from returning home.

He added that witnesses were being testified under criminal procedure.

Justice Aurangzeb asked that how could a person be declared a proclaimed offender without being given 30-day time for appearance.

Justice Athar asked from the NAB prosecutor whether the department had verified Ishaq Dar’s medical report in accordance with the orders of accountability court.

The NAB prosecutor replied that the report was sent through Foreign Office for verification but no reply was received as yet.

Justice Athar observed that a medical board could have been established to examine the medical reports of Dar to identify the nature of sickness.

After hearing arguments from both the sides, the IHC bench stayed the proceedings to declare Ishaq Dar a proclaimed offender till January 17th.

In this matter, the former finance minister Ishaq Dar challenged an order of the accountability court that declared him a proclaimed offender.

Dar through his counsel contended before the high court that while a petition regarding issuance of non-bailable arrest warrants form him was pending adjudication, the accountability court recently declared him a proclaimed offender due to his absence from the court’s proceedings.

The accountability court issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Dar on November 14th. On November 21, it declared him an absconder and warned his guarantor Ahmed Ali Qudussi that his surety bonds worth Rs5 million would be confiscated, if Dar did not join the trial proceedings.

In a subsequent hearing on December 14th, the court declared Dar a proclaimed offender and also sought details of movable properties of his guarantor.

Dar claimed in the petition that the accountability court was proceeding against him without completing the mandatory requirements.

He pointed out that the trial court started process of confiscation of properties at least 30 days after publication of proclamation.

However, in Dar’s case, this process was started a few days after the issuance of proclamation since Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir “relaxed” the rules by invoking Section 17(c) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO).

The petition pointed out that the Supreme Court in the Khan Asfandyar Wali case had discussed the jurisdiction of Section 17(c), according to which a trial court could only invoke the section in appropriate cases and for justifiable reasons.

It said that since the trial court judge was informed that his order invoking Section 17(c) had been assailed before the IHC, propriety demanded that the judge should have waited for the outcome of the said petition.

Dar further contended that the IHC had sought reply from the NAB on his petition, which had not yet been filed.

The petition stated that Dar claimed that he was not medically fit to travel back to Pakistan as his doctors had advised him against taking such a long journey.

He stated that the accountability court had already asked the NAB to verify his medical reports and the bureau’s response was still awaited.

He added that the trial court should have waited for the verification before taking such a stern action.

Therefore, he prayed before the court to declare the trial court’s order of declaring Dar a proclaimed offender, illegal.

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