ISLAMABAD: An accou­n­t­ability court here on Tues­day scrapped the reference against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar owing to lack of jurisdiction and sent it back to the National Account­ability Bureau (NAB).

Accountability judge Mu­­hammad Bashir announced the judgement on separate petitions seeking acquittal of Mr Dar, former National Bank of Pakistan president Saeed Ahmed, Naeem Meh­mood and Mansoor Raza Rizvi.

The court observed that the recent amendment to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) introduced earlier this year barred it from proceeding on such references. The judge also ordered to unfreeze the properties of Mr Dar.

The court had on Dec 11, 2017 declared Mr Dar a proclaimed offender and attached his movable and immovable properties. It had also cancelled his perpetual arrest warrant upon his surrender on Oct 10.

A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court had on July 28, 2017, while taking up petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan and Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid, disqualified the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif for not disclosing his salary that he did not draw from his son’s company, and constituted a joint investigation team (JIT), headed by then additional director general of the Federal Inves­ti­gation Agency Wajid Zia, to probe into the assets of the Sharif family and Mr Dar.

The JIT prepared four references — three against the Sharif family and one against Mr Dar — and filed them in the accountability court the same year.

As per the prosecution, the finance minister’s assets had grown manifold from Rs9.1 million in 1982-83 to Rs831.6m in 2008.

During the course of the hearing, Dar’s counsel Mis­ba­hul Hassan Qazi argued that under the NAO amendments, neither the NAB nor the accountability court had the jurisdiction to proceed in such matters. He said the legislature had in the light of several judgements of the superior courts redefined the definition of assets, and the prosecution was now under obligation to prove that the assets were accumulated through corruption.

He further argued that Mr Dar had declared all his assets before the Federal Board of Revenue that never raised any objection.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2022

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