LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Monday urged the Lahore High Court to dismiss bail petition of PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz in Chaudhry Sugar Mills (CSM) case saying she could flee the country or go underground if granted the relief.

A NAB prosecutor submitted its para-wise comments to the bail petition taken up by a division bench comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem.

To a court’s query, Ms Nawaz’s counsel Azam Nazir Tarar confirmed that the petitioner had been allowed by the authorities to visit her ailing father former prime minister Nawaz Sharif at Services Hospital.

The bench adjourned hearing till Tuesday (today) after the counsel sought time to prepare his arguments after going through the bureau’s reply.

Besides denying the arguments made by Ms Nawaz against inquiry into the CSM, the reply said mischief sought to be suppressed by National Accountability Ordinance 1999 was not just a crime against an individual but a crime against society so the response to the same had to be aggressive and punitive rather than benign and curative.

Bureau fears she may move abroad, admits excesses of its law in some cases

The NAB in the reply admitted the excesses of its law in some cases saying,“It may be true that an individual subjected to the rigours of this may sometimes suffer disproportionately but the greater good of the society emerging from stringent application of this law may make this approach worth its while.”

It said the petitioner had been trying to frustrate and hamper the investigation and there was a likelihood of her fleeing the country. “There are chances that the accused will make herself scarce or going underground or become unavailable,” it said adding that co-accused Yousaf Abbas had also tried to escape abroad.

The bureau said the petitioner had been trying to mislead the court taking a misconceived plea that the CSM inquiry had already been a subject matter of three references filed by a JIT in Panama papers case and subsequently decided by an Islamabad accountability court.

It said the allegations in the instant inquiry found no mention in the mandate of the Panama papers’ JIT.

Rejecting another argument of the petitioner against the jurisdiction of the bureau, it submitted that the chairman of the NAB enjoyed absolute jurisdiction to conduct probe to the exclusion of any other agency as the ordinance had been given an overriding effect on all other laws.

It further said the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and Companies Act 2017 had no nexus with the offences mentioned in section 9 of the NAO 1999.

The anti-corruption watchdog asked the court to dismiss the bail petition of Ms Nawaz being devoid and without any merit.

The bureau had already filed its reply challenging a civil miscellaneous application by Ms Nawaz seeking bail in the same case on humanitarian ground to look after her ailing father.

It stated that the ground invoked by the petitioner, if entertained by the court, will open the floodgates to petitions by prisoners languishing in jails.

The NAB had arrested Ms Nawaz and her cousin Abbas on Aug 8 at Kot Lakhpat jail where they went to meet Mr Sharif. They remained on physical remand with the bureau for 49 days till Sept 25 when the trial court sent them to jail on judicial remand.

Last week, the bench had allowed bail to ex-PM Nawaz in the same case on medical grounds after doctors treating him termed his condition critical.

Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2019