PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday barred the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission (KPEC) from arresting Awami National Party (ANP) Senator Sitara Ayaz, in a case of alleged misuse of authority and corrupt practices.
A two-member bench comprising Justice Irshad Qaisar and Justice Syed Afsar Shah had taken up the petition filed by Ayaz in which she requested the court to order the quashing of the KPEC proceedings against her.
KPEC had issued warrants for the arrest of Senator Sitara Ayaz — a former provincial minister for social welfare — for allegedly misusing her position during her tenure as a provincial minister during the previous government's stint.
However, Ayaz claimed in the petition that some KPEC officials had been trying to settle personal scores with her.
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As interim relief, she had also requested the court to restrain the commission from taking any adverse action against her until the final disposal of the petition, Dawn newspaper reported.
During Tuesday's hearing, the court questioned on what grounds the arrest of the senator was being made.
The court also sought complete details of the case from KPEC and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Oct 28, which is when the next hearing is scheduled.
Earlier, Sitara Ayaz's counsel Barrister Mudassir Ameer informed the court that officials of the Ehtesab Commission were harassing his client. KPEC had no evidence to prove the senator's involvement in corruption, the counsel said.
After hearing the arguments, the two-member bench passed the order that Senator Sitara Ayaz could not be arrested. The hearing was subsequently adjourned.
The arrest warrant for Ayaz was issued by the director general KP Ehtesab Commission, retired Lt-Gen Mohammad Hamid Khan.
The warrant said: “Whereas Sitara Ayaz, being a public officeholder as a minister for social welfare women empowerment and special education KP, involved in the offences of corruption and corrupt practice as defined under section publishable of the Ehtesab Commission Act 2014 by misusing her authority and thereby caused huge loss to the government exchequer.
“I, therefore, in exercise of power conferred upon me under the Act, direct to arrest her.”
If arrested, Senator Sitara Ayaz, would be the first woman and the first ANP leader to be arrested by the KPEC. The KPEC has so far arrested PTI MPA and ex-provincial minister Ziaullah Afridi, and ex-provincial minister Liaqat Shabab, who was also PPP’s provincial information secretary.
In her petition, the ANP senator charged some officials of the KPEC including one of its directors (investigation) with framing her in concocted cases to settle a personal dispute.
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She alleged that during her tenure as minister, she had lodged a complaint against a female social welfare officer of sending her threatening SMS following which the woman in question was arrested.
The senator claimed that one of her cousins was appointed to the commission who he was bent upon implicating her in cooked up cases.