• IHC grants post-arrest bail on ‘reasonable grounds’ in graft case; says allegations need ‘holistic’ inquiry
• Bench questions transparency of ‘£171m transaction’, says ‘proceeds of corruption’ belong in govt account
• Ex-PM acquitted in Azadi march case; PTI says Adiala ban meant to keep party founder away from SC

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan who has been in jail for almost nine months in multiple cases is all set to appear before the Sup­reme Court through video link as a petitioner in a case about changes in the NAB law, a day after two courts in the federal capital granted him relief in separate cases, including the Al-Qadir Trust matter.

Meanwhile, Judicial Mag­istrate Suhaib Bilal Ranjha also acquitted Mr Khan in a case registered against him at the Khanna police station in connection with the Azadi March in 2022. The cases against Mr Khan and other party leaders were registered over violation of Section 144.

This will be the first appearance of the PTI founder before the apex court since his arrest from Zaman Park in Aug last year and conviction in the Toshakhana case despite reservations expressed by the law minister about the order of the Supreme Court in this regard.

His party, on the other hand, expressed apprehensions about a visitors’ ban in the Adiala jail, saying the move was implemented to keep the party chief away from the Supreme Court proceedings in which his presence was ordered by the five-member bench.

On Wednesday, a division of the high court led by Chief Justice Aamer Far­ooq and Justice Tariq Mahmood Jahangiri granted the former premier bail in the £190 million case on “reasonable ground”, saying the allegations of gratification levelled against the former premier needed “further inquiry”.

It allowed the bail against a surety bond of Rs1 million.

The National Accounta­bility Bureau in its reference claimed that the ex-PM through his cabinet in 2019 got the approval to transfer £190m repatriated by the National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom into the account of the Supreme Court for the payment of liability of Bahria Town.

In a 12-page order, the court, however, questioned the transparency of the transaction and asked why Bahria Town’s money received from abroad which was “either laundered or illegally transferred was kept hidden from the public”.

The IHC also asked the trial court to “holistically” examine the evidence to determine the facts. The judgement said the high court could not conduct a “deeper examination” while hearing the bail petition.

In the order, Justice Farooq made it clear that “the amount transmitted from the United Kingdom to Pakistan is not £190 million, but after deduction is approximately £171.15m” and the legal framework agreement between the family of Malik Riaz and the NCA “is not on record but the government of Pakistan was made to sign the deed of confidentiality executed on Nov 06, 2019 but its sanction was obtained on Dec 03, 2019”. According to the court, the sanction did not provide retrospective approval or rectification of the act.

As per the high court, the NAB was right in saying that money ought to have been transferred to the government’s account rather than being used for the settlement of the liability of Bahria Town. As per the order, there are various provisions under the UN Charter for Prevention of Corruption that say that the “proceeds from the crimes are to be remitted to the states”.

In the world of transparency, it is surprising that money received from aboard which was either laundered or illegally transferred was kept hidden from the public of Pakistan, it said, adding that the prosecution, however, needed to connect the exercise of authority with the gratification to make out a case under section 9(a)(i) and (iv) of the Ordinance.

The bench expected that the trial court which is to see on the basis of available evidence holistically whether directly or indirectly any gratification was received by the petitioner for transferring the money to the SC account as a part of Bahria Town’s settlement.

Adiala ban

The PTI leaders in a press claimed that the ban on visitors to the Adiala jail was imposed as a part of an alleged plan to bar Imran Khan from appearing before the Supreme Court through video link in the NAB amendments case being resumed today.

Speaking at a press conference along with PTI lawyers, PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan said that they were “extremely concerned and worried about Imran Khan’s wellbeing, as he was not being allowed to conduct his medical tests for the 15-20 days despite court orders”.

He claimed over the past two days Imran Khan’s security guards were suddenly changed at midnight and the hearings in the Al-Qadir Trust, cipher, and Toshakhana cases were postponed under various excuses, while the government’s counsel in the Iddat case suddenly left the country.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2024

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