Accountability court grants Ishaq Dar one-day appearance immunity in graft case

  • Judge Mohammad Bashir upheld bailable arrest warrant issued for finance minister on Oct 30
  • Court adjourns hearing till Nov 8
Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – The accountability court on Thursday approved Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s one-day immunity from the court appearance in a corruption references filed by the NAB regarding assets beyond means.

Judge Mohammad Bashir ordered to continue bailable arrest warrants for the minister, besides rejecting the NAB plea to issue non-bailable warrants for Dar on failing to appear before the court.

The court had issued bailable arrest warrants against the accused during the last hearing after he could not show up in the court.

However, the minister and his counsel Khawaja Harris did not show up in the court today despite the issuance of the arrest warrants.

A secondary counsel of Dar’s legal team Ayesha Hamid attended the hearing and submitted a plea along with medical certificate seeking immunity for his client from the court appearance.

The minister’s guarantor informed the court that the finance minister is suffering from heart diseases and is in London for medical treatment.

In response, NAB’s deputy prosecutor, Imran Shafiq, asked the court to reject the application and issue non-bailable arrest warrants.

The court has summoned Dar on November 8 to attend the court hearing.

All four prosecution witnesses also attended the court hearing to record their statements in the case, while Shahid Aziz, Tariq Javed and Ishtiaq Ali have submitted their statements.

Assets Freezing Plea

Today, the court also took up the NAB’s plea seeking the endorsement of the bureau’s October 18 order to freeze the assets of the finance minister and his family.

The bureau had seized the assets of Dar following NAB chairman’s orders, which are valid for 15 days under the NAB Ordinance.

The authorities want to freeze bank accounts, properties, and vehicles in Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates as well as investments in both countries made by the minister and his family.

The prosecutor submitted details of Dar’s assets and argued that NAB cheif could pass orders to freeze the assets under the Ordinance.

Dar’s counsel argued that the chairman could not order to seize the assets after submitting of a reference. She added a reply in this regard was ready, but could not be filed as it did not carry signature of the fianance minister, who is in London.

Previous Hearing

On October 30, Dar’s counsel Khawaja Haris had appeared before the court and argued that the finance minister was in London for his medical checkup. He had also requested the court to exempt the finance minister from the court appearance.

To this, the NAB’s prosecutor countered the arguments and requested the court to issue arrest warrants for the minister.

The court after hearing the arguments rejected the Harris’ plea and issued bailable arrest warrants.

The court remarked that the surety bond worth Rs5 million submitted by Ishaq Dar would be seized in case he fails to appear before the court on next hearing. The court also issued a notice to the surety guarantor of Ishaq Dar.

The accountability watchdog had submitted a plea in court seeking its endorsement of the bureau’s October 18 order directing the freezing of Dar and his family’s assets but it was not discussed.

Indictment

On September 27, the finance minister had been indicted for possessing assets beyond his known sources of income.

Dar had rejected the allegations levelled by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in its reference prepared following the orders of the Supreme Court in its July 28 verdict in Panamagate case.

NAB Reference

According to the NAB reference, the accused had acquired assets and pecuniary interests/resources in his name or in the name of his dependents of an approximate amount of Rs831.678 million as per the investigation conducted so far.

The assets are disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for, the reference said.