ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday directed the accountability watchdog to continue its probe against PTI Chairman Imran Khan and his spouse in accordance with the amended law.
An IHC division bench, comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Babar Sattar, passed the directives as it disposed of a petition filed by Mr Khan and his spouse against National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) notices over alleged corrupt practices in retaining state gifts.
The bench observed that the court cannot interfere in the course of the investigation.
Khawaja Haris Ahmed, the petitioners’ counsel, argued that NAB’s notice didn’t state in which capacity the information was being sought.
Court disposes of Imran, wife’s petition against call-up notices
According to him, last year’s amendments to the accountability law 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.
NAB’s deputy prosecutor generals, Sardar Muzaffar Khan Abbasi and Sardar Zulqarnain, informed the court that the bureau has issued a notice to the ex-prime minister and his wife in accordance with the amended law and the notice was received at the residence of Mr Khan.
In a detailed report submitted to the IHC, NAB stated that Mr Khan and his spouse received 108 state gifts from August 2018 to April 2022. They retained 58 gifts against Rs38 million.
The bureau stated: “Call-up notices along with questionnaires were issued to the petitioners to seek information strictly in accordance with the law.”
“Instead of replying to the questionnaire annexed with the [first] call-up notice, the petitioner submitted an evasive reply.”
“Therefore, in the interest of justice, a [second] call-up notice was issued”, the NAB replied.
The bureau termed the second response “evasive” as well.
NAB stated that the inquiry against Mr Khan and his wife was under process and in view of Section 19 of the National Accountability Act, 2022, the call-up notices were issued, in accordance with the law, to ascertain facts.
The bureau added that while serving the notice, it had complied with the relevant provision of the law and orders of the superior courts.
“This was done keeping in view that Mr Imran Khan is a former Prime Minister and his wife [the] first lady, therefore, the sanctity, honour and dignity of this exalted office was protected without compromising the legal mandate.”
NAB requested the court to dismiss the petition.
Earlier on Feb 17, the accountability watchdog issued notices to Mr Khan and Ms Bushra for retaining state gifts. It sought details of gifts from Mr Khan, including wristwatches and a mobile phone, presented to him by various foreign dignitaries. The bureau also sought details of jewellery sets presented to his wife, including a Rolex watch, a gold and diamond locket presented by the emir of Qatar and two necklace sets gifted by the Saudi crown prince on Sept 2020 and May 2021, respectively.
Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2023