KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Thursday restrained the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from taking any coercive action against five leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in an inquiry pertaining to a prohibited funding case.

However, a two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha also asked the FIA to continue the probe and directed former Sindh governor Imran Ismail, former MNA Najeeb Haroon, MPA Dr Seema Zia, former MPA Samar Ali Khan and the party’s Karachi region finance secretary Mohammad Javed Umer to appear before the FIA on Sept 26.

The former governor and other party leaders, through their lawyers, petitioned the SHC impugning the call-up notices issued by the FIA in connection with the inquiry into alleged mismanagement of party funds.

At the outset of the hearing, the ministry of interior and FIA filed their comments on the petition of the former Sindh governor. The bench took the same on record and provided copies to the counsel for the petitioners and directed the FIA to file its reply in other petitions as well.

SHC restrains the agency from taking any coercive action against the petitioners

The bench in its order said that the FIA should continue with the inquiry till the next date of hearing but take no coercive action against any of the petitioners.

The inquiry officer, Sub-Inspector Rahat Khan of the FIA, submitted that all the petitioners should be directed to attend his office in Gulistan-i-Jauhar on Sept 26. Lawyers for the petitioners agreed to such request.

Adjourning the hearing till Nov 3, the bench directed the lawyers to ensure that all petitioners would appear before the IO on the date and fully cooperate in the inquiry.

The petitioners submitted that the impugned notices were issued pursuant to the Aug 2 order of the Election Commission of Pakistan in the prohibited funding case against PTI.

They contended that the ECP had not referred the matter to the FIA and the notices were issued without jurisdiction only to harass and humiliate the petitioners.

The PTI leaders asserted in their petitions that their party was singled out despite the fact that the orders passed by the Islamabad High Court for hearing and concluding pending matters related to other political parties as well.

The petitioners asserted that the order passed by the ECP was a fact-finding report that required other proceedings to be initiated by issuing a show-cause notices. They contended that it could not be considered as the final conclusion by the ECP.

They submitted that the ECP never called PTI’s any regional wing, including its Sindh chapter, or any other allied mother wing or office-bearers.

They submitted that the bank accounts opened and maintained by PTI’s office-bearers of regional or provincial wing had never been used for [transacting] foreign or prohibited funding. Rather, the central party through cross cheques transferred certain amounts for expenditure to the provincial wing, which was a matter of record, they explained.

They alleged that they were going to be victimised politically through the use of agencies as a tool, and pleaded to set aside the impugned call-up notices.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2022

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