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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court is expected to take up on April 24 the plea moved by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to allow it to take into custody retired Captain Safdar — who had been granted bail before arrest by the accountability court. The son-in-law of the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is under trial for corruption charges.

The three-member bench of the Supreme Court is going to be headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar himself, and includes Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan. The court is set to hear the appeal of NAB that challenges the Feb 19 Islamabad High Court (IHC) order of upholding the accountability court’s decision to release Safdar on bail.

The IHC had upheld the post-arrest bail granted by the accountability court to Capt Safdar after it rejected the appeal moved by NAB. The decision was made on the basis that Capt Safdar may be sent to jail on judicial remand after cancellation of the bail.

On September 26, the accountability court had issued bailable warrants against Capt Safdar when he failed to appear before the trial court for the hearing on Sept 14. Later, non-bailable warrants were issued on Oct 2.

On Feb 19, IHC upheld the accountability court’s decision to release on bail Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law in corruption references

Capt Safdar was arrested on Oct 8 from the Benazir Bhutto International Airport soon after his return from London. A day later, on Oct 9, he was brought before the court to seek remand for judicial custody.

Instead the accountability court granted Capt Safdar post-arrest bail on submitting Rs 5 million in surety bonds.

In its appeal NAB pleaded that the trial court could not release Capt Safdar who had earlier been arrested in accordance with warrants issued by the same court.

NAB stated in its appeal that the trial court could not release an individual who had already been arrested, since it had no powers to grant bail to any accused person — as provided by section 9(b) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

The appeal contended that the accountability court extended benefits to the accused by misapplying the law and failed to make a distinction between a complaint case and a challan case. The trial court had no authority to release accused individuals by taking sureties after the arrest had been made, said the NAB appeal.

According to NAB, the trial court overstepped its jurisdiction by releasing an individual who does not only face corruption charges, but has also failed — repeatedly — to appear before the court when summoned. All the delay tactics, according to NAB, have created obstacles for the final decision, which was supposed to take six months as ordered by the Supreme Court.

The order of the accountability court was perverse, capricious and against the record of the case, according to NAB. The petition added that NAB had been left with no choice but to appeal to the Supreme Court to cancel the bail granted to Capt Safdar.

The appeal further stated that there was sufficient evidence connecting Capt Safdar to corruption accusations. The Supreme Court should overturn the orders of the IHC and the Accountability Court, allowing NAB to take the accused into custody.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2018