ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday approached the Supreme Court to set aside the warrants issued by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman on May 1 for his arrest and to challenge the Islamabad High Court decision against his plea for declaring the arrest ‘unlawful’.

The appeal, which was filed on behalf of Imran Khan through his counsel Raja Aamir Abbas, expressed apprehension about an imminent threat to the life and liberty of the petitioner.

It argued that the warrants appeared to be in violation of Article 10-A (a provision that guarantees right to fair trial), as the entire proceedings initiated by NAB and his subsequent arrest was intended to deprive the political party and its leadership of participating in and carrying out election campaign.

The petition contended that while the IHC held that by arresting the PTI chairman on the court premises on May 9, grave illegality had been committed, the court did not issue direction for his release from the ‘unlawful custody’. The court only issued contempt notices to interior secretary and Inspector General of Police, Islamabad, the petition pointed out.

Petition argues NAB warrant violates Article 10-A

While citing a 2009 judgement of the apex court, the petition argued the arrest made on court premises was illegal as the premises was the only sanctuary that citizens approach for redressal of their grievances and protection of their constitutional rights. Thus, it regretted, the entire proceedings initiated by NAB authorities and the arrest made thereunder in collusion with the present government, on the face of it was made with mala fide intention only to harass and damage the reputation of the petitioner.

The petition further argued the warrant issued by the NAB chairman under Section 24(i) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 were “unlawful” also because warrants could only be issued during the investigation of a case or under Section 24(a)(i) when a suspect was intentionally or wilfully not joining the investigation after “repeated notices”. However, it claimed, not a single notice was issued to the petitioner after the inquiry against Mr Khan was turned into an investigation on April 28.

The appeal recalled Mr Khan in connection with his pre-arrest bail application was present inside the high court premises where the biometric procedure was being carried out when the Rangers personnel along with other officials broke in and shattered the windowpanes of the office to ‘unlawfully’ arrest the petitioner.

Subsequently, the matter was agitated before the IHC, which declined to declare the arrest ‘unlawful’, the petition recounted the events during and after the arrest.

The SC was further apprised that the issuance of warrants was unlawful since it was mandatory under Section 18(c) of the accountability ordinance that the inquiry report should be provided to the suspect before the commencement of the investigation in order to turn an inquiry into investigation. But no such report was ever prepared or handed over to Mr Khan, the petition said.

In his petition, Mr Khan claimed that the alleged amount of Rs190 million had already been deposited in the Supreme Court account apparently in relation to its May 4, 2018 judgement involving grant of 9,385-acre land by the Malir Development Authority to the Bahria Town Karachi in 2015 — about nine kilometres from Karachi toll plaza on the superhighway.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2023

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