ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday confirmed the bail of former president Asif Ali Zardari in a case pertaining to suspicious transactions from Bahria Town accounts to fake bank accounts.
A division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani granted the post-arrest bail on medical grounds after the commission, which had been constituted last month to evaluate health condition of the ex-president, filed its report.
The court had earlier granted interim bail to Mr Zardari, who had applied for bail before arrest in June 2018, but the petition was never fixed for hearing afterwards until September 2020.
The former president had initially sought bail on merit but it was amended considering his health condition when the petition was finally fixed for hearing before the bench in September last year.
Advocate Naek then took the plea that Mr Zardari be granted pre-arrest bail as he had serious health issues. He said the former president had remained behind bars for more than two months after the case inquiry had been initiated. He argued that NAB’s investigation officer had ample time to quiz the ex-president during his incarceration.
While National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal issued arrest warrants for Mr Zardari in the case, NAB’s deputy prosecutor general Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi apprised the court that the reference had not yet been filed in the case because investigation was still under progress.
Justice Farooq remarked that NAB was in the habit of filing supplementary references and this could have been done through filing a supplementary reference in the fake accounts case.
At the hearing, Mr Abbasi did not object to the medical report of the commission and on a court’s query informed the bench that NAB had never filed any application seeking cancellation of bail granted to Mr Zardari in other cases.
Another accused in the accounts case, Zain Malik, son-in-law of property tycoon Malik Riaz, had earlier secured release in three under-trial cases and three investigations through plea bargain with the anti-graft watchdog. He undertook to mortgage his six properties and pay Rs4 billion in one case, Rs170 million in another and Rs37m in the third case to NAB’s Rawalpindi directorate in three years.
Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2021