Former finance minister Ishaq Dar’s lawyer on Saturday challenged the accountability court’s issuance of non-bailable arrest warrants for the PML-N leader in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
The petition, filed by Dar’s lawyer Qausain Faisal Mufti in the IHC, also challenged the accountability court’s declaring Dar an absconder in the case.
The petition requested that Dar be exempted from appearing in court due to his poor health. The petition said that before he fell ill, he would appear in court regularly.
The petition asked the IHC to allow someone else to represent the former finance minister in court so the accountability trial against him could proceed.
The accountability court judge, investigation officer and Chairman National Accountability Bureau Justice (retired) Javed Iqbal were made respondents in the petition.
Non-bailable arrest warrants were issued for Dar on Nov 14.
On Nov 21, the accountability court declared Dar an absconder and warned his guarantor Ahmed Ali Qadoosi that his surety bonds worth Rs5 million would be confiscated if the minister did not join the trial proceedings. The guarantor, however, requested the court to grant extra time, so the court adjourned the matter for Dec 4.
Earlier this week, NAB pasted a proclamation against Dar asking him to surrender by Dec 4 as directed by the accountability court after his guarantor hinted that he might be back within the month.
The notice was also pasted at Dar’s residences and he was warned of legal consequences if he continued to abscond.
It is interesting to note that in some other high-profile cases, for example in the case of judges’ detention by former dictator retired General Pervez Musharraf, the trial court initiated the process of confiscating surety bonds several years after the ex-military ruler had started absconding.
‘Assets beyond known income’
The noose seems to be tightening further around the former finance minister after NAB decided to reopen the Rs1.2 billion Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference against him.
The Hudaibiya reference will be the second ‘mega-corruption’ case against Dar being investigated by NAB, after the reference filed against him in the wake of the Panama Papers case judgement.
The reopening of the case was recommended by the joint investigation team formed by the apex court to probe the Panama Papers allegations against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members.
On July 28, a five-member Supreme Court bench had ordered NAB to file three references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and one against Dar, on petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Imran Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami’s Sirajul Haq and Awami Muslim League’s Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.
In its reference against the finance minister, NAB alleged that “the accused has acquired assets and pecuniary interests/resources in his own name and/or in the name of his dependants of an approximate amount of Rs831.678 million (approx)”.
The reference alleged that the assets were “disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for”.
The government also withdrew the portfolio of finance minister from Ishaq Dar.