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Zardari challenges in SC case transfer to Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: Former president Asif Ali Zardari approached the Supreme Court on Tuesday, seeking transfer of the fake bank accounts case against him from the accountability court of Islamabad to the banking court in Karachi.

In his appeal moved through his counsel Farooq H. Naek, the Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman challenged the April 2 Sindh High Court order asking the National Accoun­tability Bureau (NAB) to file a corruption reference against him in the accountability court of Islamabad for allegedly maintaining fake/benami accounts.

On Feb 19, the apex court had rejected a set of review petitions in the Rs35 billion fake account case with an observation that in matters of institutional capture it was not helpless and could summon any executive authority for assistance.

Through the review petitions and miscellaneous applications, Mr Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, Anver Majeed and Abdul Ghani Majeed of the Omni Group, the Sindh government, PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and many others had challenged the Jan 7 order of referring a report of the SC-appointed Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

In his fresh appeal, the former president argued that the April 2 SHC order was bad in law since it was contrary to the facts, adding that the apex court in its Jan 7 order had not given any directive for transfer of FIR No 4 of 2018 from the banking offences court in Karachi to the accountability court in Islamabad.

The appeal recalled that the JIT had in its final synthesis report of Dec 19, 2018 requested the Supreme Court to approve referring the case from the Federal Investigation Agency director general to the NAB chairman for taking further cognizance under the relevant provisions of National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.

Moreover, it said, the JIT had in the final synthesis report requested the apex court to issue appropriate directives for NAB to inquire/investigate 16 different issues without mentioning the FIR No 4 of 2018 pending trial before the apex court. But, the appeal added, the Supreme Court had not issued any order for transfer of the case to NAB and, therefore, the high court’s April 2 order was contrary to the directives issued by the apex court. Thus the high court order was a misreading or non-reading of the Jan 7 verdict of the apex court which had not given any order for the filing of the reference at Islamabad.

“The high court has committed a grave error by misinterpreting the apex court order,” the appeal said, adding that the high court had failed to appreciate that from the plain reading of Section 16A(a) of the NAO, it was crystal clear that the NAB chairman could apply for the transfer of any case pending before any court to the NAB court under Section 16 A (a), but only in the same province. “Thus the high court order is based on misreading of the NAO law,” it argued.

“Moreover, Section 16A(a) of NAO only deals with the transfer of cases from one province to another after the permission is obtained by the NAB prosecutor general from the Supreme Court,” the petition recalled, adding that in the instant case no such permission was sought by the NAB prosecutor general from the Supreme Court. It argued that since the high court had passed the order without dilating whether any offence had been committed which attracted provisions of Section 9 of the NAO, it was liable to be set aside by the Supreme Court.

The petition also highlighted that all the essential persons, documents and witnesses in the case were within the jurisdiction of the SHC and the transfer of the case to Islamabad would cause great inconvenience to the accused and witnesses and thus the transfer was against the principles of natural justice.

It pleaded that throughout the course of history, the petitioner he had been made to suffer on account of political victimisation and mudslinging by involving him in false and fabricated cases. “The petitioner has time and again been made the target of political vendetta and vengeance,” the appeal said, adding that Mr Zardari had seen the rigours of jail numerous times in false and politically motivated cases for accumulative period of about 11 years and had done so having faith in the independence of judiciary and the justice system of Pakistan.

“It is pertinent to mention that he had been acquitted in all the fabricated and concocted cases made against him,” the petition pleaded

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