KARACHI: A banking court reserved on Monday the verdict on the National Accountability Bureau (NAB)'s request to shift the money laundering case involving former president Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur from Karachi to Islamabad. The court also extended the pre-arrest bail of Zardari, Talpur and other accused till March 15.
Zardari's counsel, Farooq H Naek, moved an application requesting Zardari's exemption from appearance while Talpur and others appeared before the court.
The jail authorities presented Hussain Lawai, Ghani Majeed and Taha Raza before the court. Naek raised the objection on behalf of his client on the decision to transfer the case, the copy of which was provided to the NAB prosecutor.
The NAB prosecutor in his arguments said that the NAB chairman had approved the transfer of the case to Islamabad. The case is being transferred in the light of the Supreme Court (SC) orders. Hence, the objections had no base, said the prosecutor. This case has a pivotal connection with NAB references and there was no need for the show cause of the accused in accordance with the SC 2004 verdict.
The NAB chairman, as per Section 16-A of the NAB Ordinance, enjoys the authority to transfer the case, said the NAB prosecutor.
Naek said that there was a need to review the section. The authority exercised by the NAB chairman for transferring the case was related with the nature of the case. The cases falling within NAB's jurisdiction can only be transferred, he argued. He further said that a case cannot be shifted to other provinces on SC and high court orders. The case in point has no connection with NAB's references. The case has not been mentioned in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) reports. The SC only ordered the transfer of the NAB references to Islamabad. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) can continue the investigation of the case.
Naek added that there was no SC order pertaining to the transfer of case and NAB is mis-interpreting the SC verdict. Hence, NAB's request, demanding the transfer of the case should be rejected as NAB only wanted to exert pressure through this request. He also requested the court to review NAB's authority in the case as he claimed they could only investigate cases pertaining to corrupt practices and corruption while this case had no connection to public fraud. Hence, the case did not fall under NAB's jurisdiction.
Zardari objects to transfer of money laundering case to Islamabad
After Naek completed his arguments, Hussain Lawai and Taha Raza's counsel, Shaukat Hayat repeated the stance that the case could not be transferred. The court remarked that the he did not have to repeat the arguments already presented.
Advocate Azhar Siddiqui argued that NAB's request should be dismissed with penalty. The Lahore High Court issued the verdict dismissing NAB's request for transferring a case. Cases cannot be transferred from one province to another after the 18th Amendment, he maintained.
The court remarked that first the jurisdiction will be determined, later the case will be proceeded. The court will announce its decision on NAB's request on March 15.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2019.
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