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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday granted pre-arrest interim bail to Pakistan Peoples Party leader Faryal Talpur and former finance minister in the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government Miftah Ismail in two separate cases under investigation by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

NAB has summoned Ms Talpur in an inquiry initiated against her for allegedly receiving kickbacks in a joint venture project of Bahria Town and Zardari Group.

A division bench of the IHC comprising Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani granted her pre-arrest interim bail till April 29 against Rs1 million surety bonds and clubbed this case with another pending petition seeking pre-arrest bail for her in the fake accounts case.

IHC clubs Bahria Town-Zardari groups joint venture inquiry with fake accounts case

Former President Asif Ali Zardari and Ms Talpur both are on interim bail in the fake accounts case till April 29.

The IHC would take up both the bail petitions related to fake accounts and alleged kickbacks at the next hearing.

In the petition, Ms Talpur said it was a joint venture signed between the two private companies which had nothing to do with the fake accounts case.

The petition informed the court that NAB had summoned her to record her statement on April 17 before a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the fake accounts case in connection with receiving alleged kickbacks in the said joint venture. She has been summoned in connection with the allegation of receiving Rs1.2 billion kickbacks.

The court later directed her to submit Rs1 million as a surety bond and adjourned the hearing.

Another division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb granted interim bail to former finance minister Miftah Ismail for Rs500,000 surety till May 7.

While granting interim bail to Mr Ismail, Justice Minallah advised his counsel to advance further arguments at the next hearing on May 7 while keeping in mind the criteria recently set by the Supreme Court in granting bail in accountability cases.

The apex court had toughened the criteria for award of bail in recent cases including one related to the suspension of sentence against PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in Avenfield properties reference.

Mr Miftah, who is facing LNG procurement deal inquiry, contended in his petition that he was not responsible “for evaluating any bids received and did not share in the executive responsibilities of due diligence as his role was merely of non-executive director”.

The former minister insisted that the LNG project at the time of award of tender was extremely price competitive.

The petition stated that NAB had issued a call up notice to him on January 1 and subsequently he appeared before an investigation officer to explain his position.

When NAB summoned him again, Mr Ismail procured a protective bail from the Sindh High Court (SHC), the petition said, adding that it would expire on April 18.

Mr Ismail in his petition alleged “the actions of NAB seem to form part of a targeted campaign that has spread fear and intimidation amongst the professional intelligentsia of the country, owing to which the administrative and bureaucratic machinery of the country has been crippled. Such effects of actions of NAB are only amplified by the fact that Respondent No 2 rarely has technical know-how or expertise to delve into the minutiae and understand the myriad details that are at the heart of any large project or commercial undertaking”.

“Furthermore, the actions of those officials, such as the petitioner, who served under previous political dispensation, seem to be under the scrutiny of NAB for politically motivated, mala fide and extraneous reasons,” the petition added.

Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2019