NAB requests IHC to cancel bail granted to Maryam

Published October 13, 2021
In this file photo, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz speaks at a rally in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV
In this file photo, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz speaks at a rally in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking cancellation of bail of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz and her spouse retired Captain Mohammad Safdar in the Avenfield Apartment reference.

The anti-graft watchdog has filed the petition just a day before the court is set to take up for hearing her appeal against the conviction in which she claimed that she had been persecuted at behest of certain people.

However, the NAB petition focused more on her activities and gestures in and outside the courtroom than on legal grounds. Referring to a previous hearing, the petition stated: “When she arrived in the court, she was so late that proceedings for the day were almost concluded…she entered the courtroom, she did so in such a casual and apathetic manner that it appeared as if she was entering one of her political gatherings.”

The bureau stated: “She has treated this honourable court as a political theatre, packing the courtroom to the hilt with her party workers, loyalists and officials who all bend over backwards in their quest for sycophancy towards convicted Respondent No. 1.”

Files petition a day before hearing of her appeal against her conviction in Avenfield apartment reference

NAB’s petition also said that she “greeted the hangers-on present inside the courtroom much to the chagrin of this honourable court.”

The anti-graft watchdog also expressed its worries over her interaction with the media, stating that the “convicted respondent turns the courtroom into a press club with her giving interview to journalists, reporters and vloggers present inside the courtroom…at the end of the court proceedings, convicted respondent without fail holds press conference in the precinct of the court making incendiary comments towards high ranking officials and NAB.”

The petition, filed by the NAB chairman whose term has slightly been enhanced through a recently promulgated ordinance, also accused her of using delaying tactics and seeking adjournments on successive dates on one pretext or another.

The petitioner claimed she “is openly threatening NAB and its officials in public congregations, tweets, social media posts and media talks causing hatred, contempt and instigating the people against NAB”. In this regard, the court was also reminded of the August 11, 2020 incident when “she was summoned to appear before NAB Lahore and she used political clout to create a law and order situation”.

Claiming that her conduct created fear among the witnesses, NAB officials, investigators, lawyers and judges, the petitioner requested the court to fix this petition for hearing on Thursday and cancel her bail accordingly.

NAB’s stance

In a related development, the NAB prosecution informed an accountability court at a hearing on LNG reference that only the incumbent regime was entitled to benefit of the concessions provided under the presidential ordinance that amended the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO).

Judge Mohammad Azam Khan of the accountability court resumed proceeding in the LNG reference.

While former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and ex-minister for finance Miftah Ismail refused to get benefit of the presidential ordinance, the co-accused in the reference sought acquittal under the legislation that excluded the federal and provincial cabinets, business community, collective decisions of the committees or sub-committees, Council of Common Interests (CCI), National Economic Council (NEC), National Finance Commission (NFC), Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), Central Development Working Party (CDWP), Provincial Development Working Party (PDWP), Departmental Development Working Party (DDWP), and the State Bank of Pakistan from the ambit of NAB.

“All matters pertaining to federal, provincial or local taxation, other levies or imposts, including refunds, or loss of exchequer pertaining to taxation” will be dealt in accordance with the revenue or banking laws and will be transferred from the accountability courts to the courts of competent jurisdiction, the ordinance stated.

NAB prosecutor Usman Mirza apprised the court that the presidential ordinance was not issued retrospectively and it applied only on the incumbent regime, business community and the mentioned public functionaries.

However, defence counsel Barrister Zafarullah claimed that the accused could also seek relief since the ordinance did have the retrospective effects. He cited an earlier ordinance in which several NAB accused including former premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was acquitted under the previous presidential ordinance.

Accountability judge sought detailed reply from NAB and adjourned further proceeding till October 26.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2021

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