ISLAMABAD: The accountability court of Islamabad on Tuesday accepted an application filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) seeking auction of properties owned by former finance minister Ishaq Dar.

The accountability Judge, Mohammad Bashir, placed Mr Dar’s properties at the disposal of the Punjab government.

The court, however, will decide the fate of vehicles and three plots of Mr Dar on Wednesday (today) after receipt of a compliance report regarding these assets by NAB.

The NAB’s special prosecutor, Imran Shafique, requested the court to appoint a receiver and issue orders for the sale of movable and immovable properties of Mr Dar since he had fled the country without seeking permission of the court.

Former finance minister’s assets have been placed at disposal of Punjab government

After filing a reference against Mr Dar in the accountability court in September last year, NAB had seized all of Mr Dar’s movable and immovable assets, including a house in Gulberg III, Lahore; three plots in Al-Falah Housing Society, Lahore; six acres of land in Islamabad; a two-kanal plot in the Parliamentarians Enclave, Islamabad; a plot in the Senate Cooperative Housing Society, Islamabad; another plot measuring two kanals and nine marlas in Islamabad and six vehicles.

The bureau alleges that Mr Dar has acquired in his name and/or in his dependants’ names assets worth Rs831.7 million which is disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Citing Section 88 (attachment of property of person absconding) and Sub Sections (2) & (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code, the prosecutor requested the court to appoint a “receiver” who would receive and deposit the revenue collected from the sale of properties in the government’s treasury.

In the order announced on Tuesday, Judge Bashir stated: “As per available record, compliance report regarding attachment of property House No. 7, Block – II, Gulberg III, Lahore belonging to accused Muhammad Ishaq Dar is available, similarly compliance report of attachment of bank accounts are also available.” He added, “period of more than six months has expired to attachment of said property and bank accounts, accused Muhammad Ishaq Dar who was declared as proclaimed offender did not appear within time specified in proclamation, therefore, above said property as well as banks accounts shall be disposal of concerned provincial government within the meaning of section 88 (7) of the criminal procedure code.”

Section 88 says about “attachment of property of person absconding” whereas Sub-Section 7 states, “If the proclaimed person does not appear within the time specified in the proclamation, the property under attachment shall be at the disposal of the Provincial Government but it shall not be sold until the expiration of Six months from the date of the attachment and until any claim preferred or objection made under sub-section (6-A) has been disposed of under that sub-section, unless if is subject to speedy and natural decay, or the Court considers that the sale would be for the benefit of the owner, in either of which cases the Court may cause it to be sold whenever it thinks fit”.

Regarding the vehicles, the court order noted, “so far as vehicles are concerned they are not taken into possession for the purpose of attachment, therefore, investigation officer is directed to take the possession of the vehicles mentioned in the list cited above and compliance report be submitted for further orders in this regard”.

The NAB’s reference accuses Mr Dar of amassing assets beyond his known sources of income.

In the supplementary reference, NAB named the president of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Saeed Ahmed, along with two other accused, Naeem Mahmood and one of Mr Dar’s employees since 1991, Syed Mansoor Raza Rizvi, on their alleged involvement in “aiding and abetting” Mr Dar for a 91 times’ increase in his assets within a short span.

In the application, Mr Shafique stated that Mr Dar was arrayed as an accused in the reference and summoned to face trial, but he fled the country without the court’s permission. He added that Mr Dar was summoned again and warrants of arrest were also issued to ensure his appearance in the court but to no avail. When there was no prospect of his arrest in the case, Mr Shafique said, the court issued proclamation under Section 87 (proclamation for person absconding) of Cr.P.C ordering him to appear before the court at a specified time, more than 30 days were given to him and even then he did not appear. Later, he said, the court declared him a proclaimed offender.

In the application, Mr Shafique said more than six months had passed, but the accused had consciously and intentionally disappeared in order to avoid the process issued by the court. “The accused feigned ailment but he is taking active part to perform his duty pursuits,” he stated, “Dar has failed to appear and justify his inability based on valid grounds.”

Nandipur reference

Meanwhile, the accountability court will indict former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Dr Babar Awan in the Nandipur reference on Oct 24.

The court fixed Oct 24 for framing of charges against Mr Ashraf, Dr Awan as well as other accused in the Nandipur reference.

Accountability Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik distributed copies of the reference among the accused persons on Tuesday.

According to NAB’s reference, former law secretaries, retired Justice Riaz Kiani and Masood Chishti, former water and power secretary Shahid Rafi and some officials of the ministries of law, water and power are among the accused.

On Sept 5, the NAB Rawalpindi filed the reference against seven politicians and officials.

The bureau contended that the project had faced a delay of two years, one month and 15 days, resulting in a loss of Rs27.3 billion to the exchequer.

Published in Dawn, October 3rd , 2018