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High court stops NAB from arresting Muqam

Updated March 14, 2019

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Seeks bureau’s reply to PML-N leader Amir Muqam’s petition against harassment, possible arrest. — PPI/File
Seeks bureau’s reply to PML-N leader Amir Muqam’s petition against harassment, possible arrest. — PPI/File

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday temporarily stopped the National Accountability Bureau, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, from arresting former federal minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz provincial president Amir Muqam over an inquiry into his assets.

A bench consisting of Justice Mussarat Hilali and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim issued a notice to the NAB regional director general asking him to give his viewpoint on a petition filed by Amir Muqam, who fears arrest.

The petitioner claimed that though he had provided all documentary evidence regarding his assets to the NAB, the latter continued to harass and intimidate him by issuing him notices to appear before it.

Seeks bureau’s reply to PML-N leader’s petition against harassment, possible arrest

He prayed the court to declare illegal and arbitrary an impugned NAB call-up notice for him on Feb 25 and subjecting him to other adverse actions through repeated notices and phone calls.

Mr Muqam requested the court to grant him bail before arrest over the ongoing inquiry or investigation against him until the conclusion of trial.

Senior prosecutor of the NAB Azeem Dad told the court that currently, an inquiry was in progress against the petitioner and that warrants for his arrest hadn’t been issued so far.

He added that the bureau would file reply to the petition.

Barrister Syed Mudasser Ameer, lawyer for the petitioner, said his client had graduated from the Engineering University and had begun working as a construction contractor and established a family business firm, AM & Co.

He added that the firm had an average yearly profit of Rs524 million.

The lawyer claimed that his client remained an active member of the PML-N, which faced the ‘wrath’ of the current government, and therefore, the NAB was bent on harassing and humiliating him through arrest to please the rulers.

He said the NAB had initiated inquiry against his client in 2016-17 and issued a call-up notice to him about the possession of assets beyond known sources of income.

The lawyer said his client visited the NAB offices on Aug 2, 2018, and was handed over an Assets Declaration Performa with directions for the production of the same on or before Aug 15.

He said during that meeting with the investigation officer, his client said he had purchased those assets from time to time from the funds generated by his firm through the execution of government projects whose contracts were acquired by following the due process, which could be easily confirmed by the relevant government departments.

The lawyer said call-up notices were issued to his client many times with the last reaching him on Feb 25.

He said all assets purchased in the name of Ameer Muqam’s client and his family members since 1989 valued Rs701.239 million, whereas only the income of his firm during the last eight years exceeded the mark of Rs1.637 billion, which was more than twice the value of the assets.

The lawyer said the Supreme Court recently ruled that on the basis of the call-up notice, the NAB couldn’t arrest a suspected criminal and that the bureau had to issue warrants at least 10 days before the intended arrest and formally inform the suspect about them.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2019