LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has found mala fide on part of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in initiating a probe into the charge against former law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan regarding accumulating illegal assets that were already frozen by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) in a drug case.

“It is significant to point out here that just after three days from the passing of bail granting order, the petitioner was served with call up notice on Dec 27, 2019,” says a division bench in its detailed order issued on pre-arrest bail petition filed by the PML-N leader.

The bench had confirmed the bail of the opposition leader on April 5 in the illegal assets case launched against him by NAB.

The bench had two questions before it to decide whether NAB had the jurisdiction to inquire into the properties and assets of the petitioner already frozen by the ANF and whether the bureau could take cognizance of the matter without invoking the provisions of Section 16-A (a) of National Accountability Ordinance 1999.

In its decision, the bench rules that when a case was already pending before a court of competent jurisdiction, NAB could not have taken the cognizance of the matter with regard to the same properties already frozen by the ANF without seeking an order from the court concerned for the transfer the case under Section 16-A (a) of the ordinance.

The bench observes that there is yet another intriguing aspect of the matter, which smacks volumes of mala fide on the part of NAB as the petitioner received a summon from it three days after his bail in the narcotics case.

It also notes that NAB initiated the inquiry against the petitioner on three different complaints filed by the same person on the allegations of accumulating assets beyond known sources of income whereas the same assets have already been frozen by the ANF on the allegations of having been acquired through involvement in drug trafficking.

“We are unable to understand what prevented the NAB authorities from arresting the petitioner when he was already in custody and why they kept the inquiry pending and never issued any call up notice to the petitioner and as soon as he was ordered to be released on bail by this court he was issued call up notice,” states the bench comprising Justice Sardar Muhammad Sarfraz Dogar and Justice Asjad Javed Ghural.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2021

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