Durrani approaches IHC for extension in pre-arrest bail

Updated November 22, 2019

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JUI-F leader Akram Durrani alleges NAB primarily serves as a tool of political engineering and a way of silencing dissenting voices. — NA website/File
JUI-F leader Akram Durrani alleges NAB primarily serves as a tool of political engineering and a way of silencing dissenting voices. — NA website/File

ISLAMABAD: As the National Accounta­bility Bureau (NAB) made it clear that it no longer intends to arrest senior Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Akram Khan Durrani, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday disposed of his pre-arrest bail petition.

Mr Durrani, who is also the convener of the opposition parties’ Rehbar Committee, approached the high court for seeking extension in his pre-arrest bail which was expiring on Thursday. The IHC had granted interim bail to him on Oct 23.

Days before the start of the JUI-F’s Azadi march against the government, Mr Durrani sought pre-arrest bail from the IHC in three inquiries initiated against him by NAB. The bureau is investigating Mr Durrani in connection with alleged corruption in two housing projects of the Federal Gover­nment Housing Foundation, appointment of a ‘blue-eyed’ officer in the Pakistan Housing Authority Founda­tion, allotment of ‘out of turn’ plots for mosques and induction in the Pakistan Public Works Department.

In the petition, Mr Durrani stated that since its formation in 1999 NAB had primarily been serving as a tool of political engineering and a way of silencing dissenting voices. The petition said that Mr Durrani “believes in accountability and hence has been cooperating with the respondents”.

He expressed apprehensions that NAB might arrest him because of political differences between the JUI-F with the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

When the IHC’s division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb resumed hearing Mr Durrani’s petition, NAB special prosecutor Barrister Rizwan Ahmed informed the court that since NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal had not been issued his arrest warrants, the investigation team had no intention to arrest him at this stage.

He said that the investigation officer was of the view that the evidence in hand was not sufficient for the issuance of Mr Durrani’s arrest warrants.

According to the prosecution, another accused namely Rehmatullah is required by NAB. Rehmatullah has also sought bail from the IHC.

The prosecutor told the court that the investigation team sought the custody of Rehmatullah who was the personal secretary to Mr Durrani while the latter was the federal minister for housing and works.

He said that in case the investigation team found some substantial evidence against Mr Durrani later on, the NAB chairman might issue his arrest warrants.

The court suggested NAB to instead of taking Rehmatullah into custody they could interrogate him on a daily basis. When the prosecutor expressed apprehension that the accused might go abroad if not taken into custody, Chief Justice Minallah remarked that his name could be placed on the exit control list.

The court observed that NAB summoned the accused only once so far. He warned NAB not to arrest any citizen for the purpose of disgracing or torture.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2019