ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Friday arrested Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani from the premises of the Supreme Court, which had told the PPP leader that his appeal would be heard only if he surrendered to the bureau to answer allegations of corruption.

Consequently, Mr Durrani, who is accused of accumulating assets beyond his known sources of income, waited for almost four hours outside the Courtroom No. 2, where his appeal was heard by a Supreme Court bench, to receive the one-page order of the court.

His appeal was taken up by a three-judge bench comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah. Mr Durrani was represented by his counsel Amir Raza Naqvi.

The moment he stepped outside the Supreme Court building, the NAB authorities arrested him and took him away from the court’s parking area.

Apex court tells Siraj Durrani his bail plea will be heard only if he surrenders to the bureau

“At the very outset, learned counsel of the petitioner undertakes for the petitioner (Agha Siraj Durrani) to surrender before the NAB authorities in order to pursue his petition before us,” the Supreme Court order said with a directive to its office to fix the hearing of his appeal next week.

Talking to reporters outside the courtroom, the Pakistan Peoples Party leader said he would not leave the court premises until he received the court order.

He said that his party had always taught political workers like him to respect the judiciary. “We are not afraid of arrests,” he said to a question by a media person.

Earlier during the hearing, the Supreme Court observed that one should abide by law.

Mr Durrani had come to the Supreme Court to file an appeal against Oct 13, Sindh High Court’s rejection of his post-arrest bail plea.

The corruption inquiry against Mr Durrani was initiated by NAB on the complaint of Maulana Syed Aziz Ahmed Shah on Sept 13, 2018 on the allegations of accumulating assets and pecuniary resources to the tune of Rs1.6 billion at his native place in Garhi Yasin, Sindh, through illegal means and in active connivance with his family members, frontmen and servants.

Earlier also Mr Durrani was arrested from Islamabad on Feb 20, 2019, five days before he was supposed to appear at the NAB office in Karachi.

In his appeal, the speaker has pleaded that his family owned thousands of acres of land in Sindh even before the creation of Pakistan and he inherited and received a gift of 3,611 acres of agricultural land in Shikarpur district.

He said that he was earlier arrested on vague and unsubstantiated grounds.

His petition also accuses NAB of terrorising his daughters during a raid on his residence in Karachi on Feb 20, 2019.

After his earlier arrest, he was taken to Karachi on transit remand from Accountability Court, Islamabad. Besides his physical remand was granted to NAB by the Accountability Court, Karachi, from time to time until April 12, 2019.

On Dec 13, 2019, the SHC granted him post-arrest bail. However, the SHC order was challenged by NAB in the apex court, which through a short order on March 17, 2021 set aside the SHC order and referred the matter back to the high court for a fresh decision, but allowed Mr Durrani to remain on bail in the meanwhile. A different bench of the SHC dismissed his bail plea on Oct 13, 2021.

Through his appeal before the Supreme Court, Mr Durrani has requested the court to set aside the high court order and grant him post- arrest bail in the reference pending before the Accountability Court, Karachi.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2021

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