Accountability court declares Ishaq Dar an absconder

Initiates proclamation proceedings against the finance minister

Rizwan Shehzad November 21, 2017
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar landed in hot water as the accountability court conducting his trial in connection with a National Accountability Bureau (NAB)’s reference initiated proclamation proceedings against him on Tuesday over repeated failure to appear before the court.

Declaring Dar ‘absconder’, Justice Muhammad Bashir ordered NAB to initiate proceedings under section 87 of the Criminal Procedure Code and submit a report within 10 days –reducing time from 30 days.

The accountability court also issued a show-cause notice to Dar’s surety giver, seeking an explanation to why surety worth Rs5 million may not be forfeited. He has been directed to submit his reply on November 24.

In his statement, the investigation officer, of the NAB reference pertaining to assets beyond means, told court Dar's residences in Lahore and Islamabad had been raided following the issuance of the non-bailable warrants. The officer said that the PML-N leader was deliberately concealing himself from the lawful proceedings by fleeing to England; adding that he may be declared a proclaimed offender.

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Subsequently, the court dismissed Dar’s application requesting the court to allow him to be represented by a pleader in his absence as he was undergoing medical treatment in London.

Earlier, Dar’s counsel Qausain Faisal Mufti submitted a fresh medical report before the court stating Dar was specifically barred from travelling and that the doctor would examine him on November 27;  Mufti argued that there are no conflicting statements in the report and NAB has yet to verify the previous two medical reports as earlier directed by the court.

Mufti informed the court that one of the blood vessels of his client had ruptured during angiography, he suggested digitally connect the court with Dar to see his medical condition.

However, NAB prosecutor Imran Shafiq opposed the request saying the medical report doesn’t fulfill the legal requirements set in the Criminal Procedure Rules, 2014, of the United Kingdom.

Accountability court confirms freezing Ishaq Dar's assets

He said no expertise and qualification of the doctor concerned have been mentioned in the report and no material upon which the doctor relied has been attached with the report either “and the report doesn’t contain a declaration of truth.”

Shafiq informed the court that the previous medical reports have been forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for verification and a reply is awaited. He requested the court to dismiss the application and initiate proceedings under section 87 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Following the dismissal of Dar’s application, NAB prosecutor requested the court to pass a ‘confirmation’ order which would allow NAB to attach two more properties – Hijveri Trust and Hijveri Foundation – allegedly belonging to Dar and located at Raiwind Road and MM Alam Road in Gulberg area of Lahore.

Mufti said that properties do not belong to Dar; are being run by a trust and the court may issue a notice to the trust as they are separate entities. He added that orphan children live in the properties and several other charitable activities were also performed by the trust.

Following the objections, the court said that it would decide the matter later on. No order was passed till the filing of this news.

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Previously, the court had confirmed freezing of assets, properties, bank accounts and investments of Dar in Pakistan and abroad on NAB’s request except for an account with the Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue (AGPR).

While submitting the details of assets and properties – moveable and immovable – of Dar, his family, dependents, NAB had requested the court to endorse its action because “there is serious apprehension that the accused or his dependents may dispose of, alienate, sell, create charge or change the status of the property.”

In the earlier application, NAB had listed details of six bank accounts located in Lahore and Islamabad, 13 assets within Pakistan and seven assets/companies abroad.

On September 27, the accountability court indicted Dar for amassing assets beyond his known sources of income and directed the prosecution to produce witnesses and evidence for establishing its case.

Dar had pleaded not guilty and is currently standing trial in the NAB reference filed against him in line with the Supreme Court’s July 28 judgment in Panamagate case.

The court would resume hearing on December 4.

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