IHC dismisses Dar’s plea over non-bailable arrest warrants

Court also declared the former finance minister a proclaimed offender


Rizwan Shehzad   January 17, 2018
PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: It seems troubles for Ishaq Dar are far from over as the Islamabad High Court on Wednesday dismissed his petition challenging several orders of an accountability court.

Through the orders, the court had issued bailable and non-bailable warrants of arrest for the former finance minister and later declared him a proclaimed offender.

A two-member division bench of the IHC comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb dismissed Dar’s petition; vacated the stay earlier granted on the proceedings before the accountability court and upheld the trial court’s decision of declaring him a proclaimed offender.

The bench – which sought arguments over whether the accountability court exercised its discretion in accordance with law; whether orders were sustainable on the touchstone of reasonableness and if initiating proceedings against Dar were in consonance with law – expressed extreme displeasure over a fresh medical report suggesting rest for the minister for six more weeks.

“Medical report doesn’t say that he can’t travel,” Justice Minallah remarked over the medical report issued on January 11.

“He [Dar] can travel, use air ambulance service, besides excellent healthcare facilities are available here,” he added.

IHC dismisses Ishaq Dar's petition seeking to set aside earlier judgement

When the counsel for Dar replied that it was his client’s right to get examined and treated by doctors of his choice, Justice Minallah replied it seems “he [Dar] doesn’t trust general practitioner in Pakistan”.

Subsequently, the court dismissed Dar’s petition.

On December 20, the division bench had raised a number of questions over several orders passed by the accountability court conducting Dar’s trial in connection with a NAB reference accusing him of amassing assets beyond means.

The bench also questioned if the time prescribed under Section 87 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1898 – 30 days – for declaring a suspect a proclaimed offender could be curtailed to 10 days under Section 17(c) of the NAB Ordinance of 1999 “in the absence of exceptional circumstances”.

Through the order, the IHC had stayed proceedings before the trial court till January 17, observing that the questions of law raised needed consideration.

In response to the order, the NAB’s special prosecutor, Imran Shafique, submitted on Monday a detailed reply, accusing Dar of playing ‘hide and seek’ with the accountability court.

In the reply, the NAB prosecutor said that it is a trite law of the country that a proclaimed offender, absconder or fugitive from law cannot be heard, even against an order of abscondence, unless he surrenders himself before the court of law.

He added that it is also a settled law that a writ petition emerging from a criminal matter can’t be filed on the basis of special power of attorney.

'Dar is playing hide and seek with trial court', NAB tells IHC

NAB said that the petitioner is bound to disclose his bona fide; which is miserably lacking in the instant matter; therefore, the petitioner is debarred from invoking the jurisdiction of IHC.

The anti-graft body has accused that “petitioner [Dar] is guilty of playing hide and seek with the court of competent jurisdiction”, adding that the court was constrained to pass order for taking coercive measures against the accused and “with such contumacious conduct” he cannot approach IHC.

Shafique maintained that Dar has assailed numerous orders, passed in different applications, pertaining to different subjects, in one go in a single writ petition, an exercise is not warranted under the law.

In response to the IHC’s questions, the NAB prosecutor raised two questions: whether the accused was able to make a case for exemption on the basis of medical ground, and second, if the appointment of a pleader in the case was possible and it was justified to allow the trial to continue “in self-imposed exile of the accused”.

Apparently, the court has agreed with the prosecutor’s arguments concluding that Dar is not suffering from any disease which cannot be treated within the country; he has no major medical issue and life-threatening disease and there is no restriction on the movement and travel of the accused has been suggested, even remotely.

NAB informed the court that Dar had produced seven medical reports before the trial court and all medical reports, if put together, were not only inconsistent and contradictory, rather they were sufficient to expose the mala fide of the “petitioner who in order to escape from the court, staged the drama of serious heart problem”.

“When all medical reports are kept together it seems that the reports of Ranjit Deshpande are procured with purpose to linger on the case/reference,” Accountability Court Judge Bashir had stated in his order of December 11, 2017.

The order had suggested that the Indian doctor allegedly provided medical reports to Dar for the purpose of lingering on the trial.

With the temporary relief is over now, the accountability court is all set to resume hearing of the NAB reference on Jan 18 (today).

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