KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) was informed on Wednesday by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) that Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Sharmila Farooqui cannot hold any public office since she has been convicted by a court of law.
Defending the action of the national anti-graft body, the NAB prosecutor contended that the letters written to the Sindh Assembly and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) seeking disqualification of the PPP leader were issued strictly in accordance with the law.
The SHC asked Farooqui’s lawyer to file objections to the comments. Headed by Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto, the two-judge bench sought such objections, if any, by October 28.
Farooqi, a legislator elected on a reserved seat for women, had assailed a NAB letter issued to the Sindh government, the central bank, and the ECP about her disqualification following a sentence by an accountability court and approached the SHC requesting the court to restrain NAB and other respondents from taking any coercive action against her.
The letter had stated that Farooqi, her mother Anisa Farooqi and father Usman Farooqi, stood disqualified for holding public office for 21 years as per the judgment of the accountability court on April 28, 2001 under Section 15 of the National Accountability Ordinance and sought action against them under the law.
According to the NAB reference, former Steel Mills chairman Usman, her spouse and daughter were indicted by the accountability court for possessing national saving certificates worth Rs39.5 million beyond their known sources of income.
However, prior to the judgment, the defendants had entered into a plea bargain and agreed to return the money deposited in the national saving certificates.
The court had allowed the plea bargain but disqualified them for holding any public office for 21 years under Section 15 of the NAB Ordinance.
Farooqi’s lawyer, Haseeb Jamali, had argued that the NAB letter issued to the ECP, the principal secretary to chief minister and the State Bank of Pakistan is illegal. He added that the Supreme Court had reduced the disqualification under plea bargain from 21 to 10 years, and that the conviction of the petitioner under the NAB Ordinance did not hold any field.
At Wednesday’s hearing, the NAB prosecutor pleaded to the court to dismiss the petition.
However, the bench continued its interim order passed earlier through which the ECP and Sindh Assembly secretary were restrained from taking any action against the petitioner till the next date. It also asked the petitioner’s lawyer to submit objections to the NAB’s comments, if any, by the next hearing.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2016.