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IHC gives last chance to NAB to contest bail petitions of Abbasi, Ahsan

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Monday gave a last chance to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for formally contesting the bail petitions filed by former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal.

Barrister Zaffarullah Khan, the counsel for Mr Abbasi, argued before an IHC bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Lubna Saleem Pervez that it had been over a week but NAB had not prepared a reply to the petition filed by his client.

Mr Abbasi has been behind bars for over 200 days. He was arrested by NAB in connection with an inquiry into the LNG terminal contract.

Jahanzeb Khan Bharwana, additional prosecutor general of NAB, informed the court that the reply could not be prepared because some papers of the petition’s copy provided to him by the court staff were missing.

Says any request for further adjournment will not be entertained

Regarding the filing of reply to the petition of Ahsan Iqbal, Barrister Rizwan requested the court to grant some time to file parawise comments.

Advocate Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, the counsel for Mr Iqbal, informed the court that NAB could not file the reply despite the fact that the IHC chief justice had directed the bureau to file it seven days back.

The bench, however, adjourned the hearing till Thursday (Feb 13) and made it clear that “any request for further adjournment will not be entertained on the next date”.

Mr Iqbal is currently detained at Adiala jail in connection with an investigation into the Narowal Sports City project.

The same bench also took up the petition of Mustafa Kamal, a brother of Ahsan Iqbal, seeking pre-arrest bail in the Rawalpindi/Islamabad Metro Bus beautification case.

NAB prosecutor Rizwan informed the court that the petition was premature as no arrest warrants had so far been issued by the NAB chairman.

Advocate Jahangiri requested the court to issue a directive that in case NAB decides to arrest Mr Kamal it will seek a prior approval from the IHC.

He alleged that the NAB chairman had misused his discretionary powers of arrest of an accused in some cases where the arrest warrants were issued soon after the disposal of pre-arrest bail petitions.

IHC Chief Justice Minallah pointed out that the Supreme Court had recently issued a judgement according to which a detainee might seek claim in such circumstances.

“If they [NAB people] misuse powers of arrest, detenu may claim damages,” observed Justice Minallah.

The court then asked the inquiry officer to give an undertaking in this regard.

The inquiry officer replied that since the inquiry was in the initial stage, there was no need for arresting the accused.

The court, however, asked NAB to file a written report in this regard and adjourned the matter.

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