ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday sought parawise comments from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on a petition seeking post-arrest bail for former finance minister Miftah Ismail.
An IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb took up the bail petition of Mr Ismail who has been behind bars for over four months in connection with the investigation into the LNG terminal case.
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former managing director of the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) Sheikh Imranul Haq are also facing the same investigation.
Mr Abbasi has also been behind bars since July.
IHC Chief Justice Minallah in the detailed judgement issued in Mr Haq’s post-arrest bail observed that the LNG terminal case is “a classic example of the violation of fundamental rights”.
In its judgement, the court highlighted poor investigation by inexperienced investigators in this case and noticed that there was nothing on record to indicate that an effort had been made during the course of inquiry or investigation to professionally analyse the data. Moreover, the figures quoted by the investigating officer relating to the alleged loss suffered by the national exchequer not supported by any material placed on record.
The counsel for Mr Ismail argued before the court that NAB on Aug 7 arrested his client in connection with the LNG terminal case.
According to the counsel, “the grounds of arrest of the petitioner are wholly inadequate to justify the continued incarceration of such an illustrious citizen on concocted and cooked-up allegations”.
Furthermore, the counsel said that NAB had also failed to highlight any loss to the national exchequer because of any alleged wrongdoing of Mr Ismail.
According to the petition, NAB without making an effort to provide benchmarks or any other data to show what is and what is not exorbitant is alleging that the process of award of the LNG terminal project was fraudulent and overpriced. “However, despite keeping the petitioner in custody, it is blindingly obvious that NAB does not have any material to justify its claim of exorbitant returns.”
The petition claimed that the allegations with respect to exorbitant capacity charges and allowances of idle time were prior to the petitioner’s assuming of the role of a non-executive director of Sui Southern Gas Company Limited.
After hearing the preliminary arguments the court adjourned further hearing till Dec 10.
Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2019