'Order for NAB to file reference in Islamabad is illegal,' Anwar Majeed says in petition to SC

Updated January 30, 2019

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"All allegations connected with Karachi where all witnesses live. Order for NAB to file reference in Islamabad illegal," says Anwar Majeed's petition. — File
"All allegations connected with Karachi where all witnesses live. Order for NAB to file reference in Islamabad illegal," says Anwar Majeed's petition. — File

Omni group owner Anwar Majeed petitioned the Supreme Court on Wednesday, asking that the decision to hold the investigation into the fake accounts case in Islamabad be reconsidered.

"All allegations are connected with Karachi and all witnesses live there as well. The order for National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file the reference in Islamabad is illegal," the petition said.

"The case is related to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and not the NAB. The FIA was not able to present a challan in the banking court and thus, the case is being illegally stalled on purpose," the petitioner said while adding that the FIA should be ordered to quickly file a challan in the case.

"The joint investigation team (JIT) has already presented its report and further investigations in the case will affect the petitioner's right to a fair trial," the petition said, claiming that the JIT report was based on speculation and that "it has been assumed that all the money in the accounts has been accumulated through crimes".

Last year, the JIT formed by the SC had submitted a report alleging that a close nexus had been found between a troika of Zardari Group, Bahria Town and Omni Group in the ‘fake accounts' scam. The report revealed that at least 29 bank accounts had been identified as fake which had been used for money laundering of Rs42 billion.

The petition, submitted today, also pointed out that Majeed faces ill health and has presented a medical report to back this in court. It alleged that the FIA had launched a media campaign against the petitioner and that the media was being provided the details of the investigation's progress.

On Monday, former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur had challenged the verdict passed earlier this month by the SC, saying the apex court "had no justification at all" for passing an order in the case.

Talpur also filed a fresh petition today calling for a review of the January 7 SC order in the case. She submitted the application through her lawyer Farooq H Naiq. The petition also questions the court's suo motu powers and asked "does the court have suo motu powers [in this case]."

The top court, in an order passed in the case on Jan 7, had referred the JIT report and evidence collected to NAB for further investigation, directing the anti-corruption watchdog to wrap up its investigation within two months.

"In the facts and circumstances of the case and in the light of the JIT report, which has no evidentiary value in the eyes of law, this honourable court was not justified at all to passing any order at all, giving directions to NAB, thereby curtailing rights of the petitioners and others," the appeal submitted on Monday read.

Last week, NAB formed a combined investigation team (CIT) to probe alleged ‘fake’ bank accounts and money laundering suspicions against top Pakistan Peoples Party leadership, bankers and players in the real estate business.

According to the NAB spokesperson, the SC judgement pertaining to the fake accounts case was reviewed at the NAB meeting. NAB chief Javed Iqbal is to directly supervise the official proceedings of the CIT, as per law.

It was decided at the meeting that investigations into fake bank accounts and money laundering would be taken to their logical conclusion in the light of the judgement of the apex court and on the basis of solid evidence. The accountability bureau has asked the media to meanwhile avoid speculation.

Those found guilty of corruption will have two options – either face a reference or ask for a plea bargain. Though the JIT had recommended 16 references against the accused, how it would treat the JIT report and how many references would be filed depended on NAB.