PHC confirms pre-arrest bail of Safdar over assets inquiry

Published April 28, 2021
A bench consisting of Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Syed Arshad Ali pronounced a short order of accepting the petition of Mr Safdar seeking pre-arrest bail in the case. — DawnNewsTV/File
A bench consisting of Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Syed Arshad Ali pronounced a short order of accepting the petition of Mr Safdar seeking pre-arrest bail in the case. — DawnNewsTV/File

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday confirmed the pre-arrest bail of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader retired Captain Mohammad Safdar over an ongoing inquiry by the National Accountability Bureau, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, against him for allegedly holding assets beyond means.

A bench consisting of Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Syed Arshad Ali pronounced a short order of accepting the petition of Mr Safdar seeking pre-arrest bail in the case.

The petitioner, who is also the son-in-law of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, was given an interim pre-arrest bail in Oct last year on the condition of furnishing two surety bonds of Rs500,000 each.

He had approached the court after the NAB chairman had issued his arrest warrants in Oct last year.

Barrister Mudassir Ameer and Manzoor Khalil appeared for him, whereas the NAB, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was represented by its senior prosecutor, Azeem Dad.

NAB chief had issued his arrest warrants in Oct last year

The petitioner’ lawyers said the NAB inquiry or investigation against their client was based on mala fide intent as he had appeared before the NAB combined investigation team on multiple occasions.

They said the petitioner had provided the sought-after information to the investigation officers but even then, the NAB chairman issued warrants for his arrest.

The lawyers said presently, the NAB had been inquiring into two cases against their client, one in Peshawar and another in Lahore.

They added that the property about which inquiry was in progress was purchased by Mr Safdar’s father in 1997 and the entire record of the same was available.

The lawyers said a land measuring 53 kanals and 10 marlas was purchased in 1997 over which a flour mill was constructed in 1998.

They added that the Rehmat Flour Mills was subsequently gifted to Mr Safdar’s son by his grandfather.

The counsel argued that the case in question was of total amount of around Rs25 million, whereas under the NAB SOPs, it had not been dealing with cases having amount of less than Rs100 million.

Barrister Mudassir said his client had appeared before the investigation team on different occasions, while a call-up notice was issued to him on Sept 17, 2020, along with a questionnaire and he had responded to it in detail.

He said as all records had been provided to the investigation team and the inquiry/investigation had been completed, there was no need for his arrest.

The lawyer said Article 9 of the Constitution declared that the ‘petitioner will not be deprived of his or her liberty save in accordance with the law’.

The counsel said it was by now settled in light of the superior court judgments that in the absence of some solid and cogent evidence or complaint, the NAB had no authority to harass and torment citizens through vague call-up notices and unwarranted arrests.

NAB prosecutor Azeem Dad contended that the inquiries in Lahore and Peshawar were of different nature. He said the petitioner could not provide satisfactory explanation to the properties in question due to which his arrest warrants were issued.

He argued that the petitioner had also tried to fabricate certain documents and there was also over-writing on some of the property documents.

The prosecutor said during inquiry, evidence had been collected against retired Captain Safdar showing that he had purchased properties in Mansehra in his name and in the name of his benamidars.

He added that he had constructed a flour mills and other properties without having any lawful income.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2021

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