Abbasi granted protective bail in PSO case

Updated March 31, 2020

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ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi talking to media during his appearance at the Islamabad High Court.—Online
ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi talking to media during his appearance at the Islamabad High Court.—Online

ISLAMABAD: The Islam­abad High Court (IHC) on Monday granted four-week protective bail to former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former secretary of petroleum Arshad Mirza in a case about the alleged illegal appointment of managing director and deputy managing director of the Pakistan State Oil (PSO).

The National Accounta­bility Bureau (NAB) last week filed a reference against Mr Abbasi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Mr Mirza for allegedly appointing Sheikh Imranul Haq as managing director and Yaqoob Sattar as deputy managing director (finance) of the PSO in violation of rules and regulations.

Admitting the reference, Farid Anwar Kazi, administrative judge of the accountability court, had issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Mr Abbasi and Mr Mirza and directed the prosecution to produce Abbasi and Mirza on April 10.

Barrister Zafarullah Khan appeared as the counsel for the accused.

He requested the court to grant the accused protective bail, fearing that NAB might arrest his clients without giving them an opportunity to appear in the court.

He informed the court that Mr Abbasi and Mr Mirza were never issued any notice either by NAB or the accountability court and they heard about their non-bailable warrants through the media.

The accountability court last week also summoned Mr Haq and Mr Sattar on April 10.

The NAB investigation officer was also directed to provide copies of the documentary evidence to all suspects, under Section 265-C of the Criminal Procedure Code, within seven days.

During the course of hearing, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Arshad Mirza both were present in the courtroom.

Barrister Zaffarullah argued that both of the accused wanted to appear in the court on the date fixed. He, however, referred to the suspension of airline services and said that because of the lockdown it was not possible for the accused to appear on April 10.

The counsel requested the court that the protective bail may be granted to them for six weeks.

However, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, another member of the IHC division bench headed by the Chief Justice Athar Minallah, suggested that the protective bail should not be extended to four weeks.

He expressed the hope that both Mr Abbasi and Mr Mirza might be able to be in the trial court within four weeks.

Mr Abbasi was recently granted post-arrest bail in the LNG Terminal case.

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2020