ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday sought a reply from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in connection with an inquiry initiated against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi, for ‘illegally’ retaining Toshakhana gifts.

The IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Saman Rafat Imtaiz heard the petitions of Mr Khan and Bushra Bibi.

Khawaja Haris Ahmed, counsel for the petitioners, requested the court to stay the inquiry till the final decision on the complaint of Election Commission of Pakistan in the Toshakhana case.

He argued that the NAB’s notices didn’t state in which capacity the information was being sought.

Counsel asks IHC to stay probe until final decision in Toshakhana case

He pointed out that superior courts had made it mandatory for NAB to explain details of the inquiry and for what reason the bureau was summoning individuals.

Justice Farooq inquired as if the procedure of serving notices provided in the NAB law amendments of 2022.

The counsel replied that the amendments made it mandatory for NAB to establish a reason and communicate it to the suspect.

“As per the amended law, it should be mentioned whether anyone was summoned as an accused or summoned for any other reason,” he said.

The NAB’s prosecutor informed the court that a reminder had been sent to the former prime minister for sharing details of Toshakhana gifts.

The PTI chairman and his wife challenged the NAB case initiated against them for retaining and ‘illegally’ selling the Toshakhana gifts.

On Feb 17, NAB issued notices to Mr Khan and Ms Bushra Bibi for retaining state gifts. The anti-corruption watchdog sought details from Mr Khan of wrist watches and a mobile phone, presented to him by various foreign dignitaries.

The bureau also sought details of jewellary sets presented to Ms Bushra Bibi, including a Rloex watch, a gold and diamond locket presented by Emir of Qatar, and two necklace sets gifted by the Saudi crown prince.

In the identical petitions before the IHC filed through his attorney Khawaja Haris Ahmed and Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, the former prime minister and his wife pleaded that NAB had issued the notice in violation of Section 19 of the National Accountability Ordinance.

“The contents of the call-up notice unambiguously establish that the respo­n­dent [NAB] had, through their impu­gned notice, initiated a fishing exercise, rather than complying with the provision of law before issuing the same,” the petitions said. It requested the court to declare the NAB notice illegal.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2023

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