NAB to challenge PML-N leaders Ahsan Iqbal, Khawaja Asifs bails in SC

A day after high courts issued its detailed verdict, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday announced that it will challenge the bails granted to PML-N leaders Ahsan Iqbal and Khawaja Asif in the Supreme Court.

A statement issued by NAB said that in Ahsan Iqbal’s case, the bureau will also approach the accountability court to hold daily hearings.

“NAB had filed a reference against Ahsan Iqbal in the honourable accountability court of Islamabad that is being heard. [Now] NAB has decided to file an application asking the court to hold daily hearings of the case under Section 16-A of NAB Ordinance,” said the statement.

The statement also said that NAB will approach the Supreme Court over Ahsan Iqbal and Khawaja Asif’s bail, which was approved by the Islamabad and Lahore High Courts, respectively.

NAB overstepped while arresting Ahsan Iqbal, IHC rules

On Wednesday, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) issued a detailed bail order in the Narowal Sports City Complex case against PML-N general secretary and former federal minister Ahsan Iqbal, ruling that the National Accountability Bureau overstepped its authority when it arrested him in 2019.

Iqbal’s bail was granted in writing by Chief Justice Islamabad High Court Athar Minallah and Justice Lubna Saleem Pervez on February 25, 2020.

In the judgment, the court held that NAB failed to present evidence of corruption against Iqbal.

The court acknowledged that the project was started for the benefit of the people of Narowal, was approved by the authorised forum Central Development Working Party (CDWP) and that Iqbal did not benefit financially from the project.

It ruled that the records show that Iqbal has been voluntarily cooperating with the investigating officer at a time when the case has not been turned into an investigation yet. At the present stage of the inquiry, the petitioner is presumed innocent, the judgment observed.

In July 2018, NAB had begun the investigation of the complex that has been raised with a whopping Rs3,000 million.

Accepted fact that Khawaja Asif did not harm national exchequer: LHC

That same day, the Lahore High Court (LHC) also issued its judgement on the bail application of Khawaja Asif.

The LHC had granted bail to the PML-N leader two weeks ago in a case filed against him by NAB which accuses him of money laundering and owning assets beyond known sources of income.

On Wednesday, a two-member bench of the LHC comprising Justice Aalia Neelam passed the 18-page judgment.

The court’s decision read that the investigating officer’s report reveals that the investigation against Asif is ongoing. The NAB prosecutor said that the reference against Khawaja Asif should be sent to the NAB chairperson, the judgment said.

The 18-page judgment said that the allegation of assets in excess of income against Asif is under investigation. No reference has been filed against the PML-N leader to date.

According to the decision, a representative of UAE-based International Mechanical and Electrical Company (IMECO) wanted to come to Pakistan. The investigating officer did not include the representative of the Dubai company in the investigation, the judgement read, adding that Asif has declared his overseas income in his income tax returns.

The court ruled that it was a recognised fact that Khawaja Asif did not harm the national exchequer.

NAB’s investigating officer did not verify with the embassy Asif’s overseas money from 2004 to 2008, the court said.

PTI leader Usman Dar’s petition to the NAB has also been made part of the written decision.

Details of Asif’s income have been included in the written statements of the LHC.

Asif was arrested on December 29, 2020. He filed a bail application on March 27, 2021. The arguments on Asif’s bail application were completed in three days.

Asif, in his bail plea, stated that he was arrested by NAB on December 29 in a case alleging he owns assets beyond known sources of income and has engaged in money laundering.

He told the court that he has already submitted details sought by NAB and claimed that the anti-corruption watchdog has not shared any of the records turned in by him.

“The accountability court judge also observed that NAB has all relevant records,” Asif had said.

He had said that the Federal Board of Revenue and Election Commission of Pakistan also have records of the assets owned by him.

On December 29, NAB arrested the PML-N parliamentary leader in the National Assembly for allegedly owning assets beyond known sources of income.

He was arrested after coming out of the residence of PML-N General Secretary Ahsan Iqbal where he attended a consultative meeting to decide whether or not the PML-N should contest the Senate election.



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