An accountability court in Islamabad on Saturday ordered the restoration of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar's accounts and assets after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) withdrew its reference against him.
Accountability court judge Muhammad Bashir issued the verdict with Advocate Qazi Misbah ul Hassan representing Dar and Prosecutor Afzal Qureshi representing the State.
Earlier, a Lahore bench of NAB issued a letter to restore the minister's assets.
According to the written order issued by the accountability court, the 2017 order to confiscate the finance minister’s assets, including his house in Lahore, and freeze his bank accounts, was being withdrawn.
Dar’s counsel, referring to the case of ‘Rana Muhammad Ramzan vs The State', pointed out that back then, the petitioner had appeared late before the court, faced trial and was acquitted of the charges.
He added that the petitioner in that case could not be said to have absconded or concealed himself.
Read NAB greenlights unfreezing of Dar’s assets
Dar’s counsel argued that the confiscation of immovable property was unjustified as ”the same was directed to have resorted to the petitioner [in the previous case] under these circumstances”.
The prosecutor told the court that Dar had joined the proceedings to face the trial and the criminal case against him was closed.
He added that the court could pass an appropriate order as per law.
According to the order, records disclosed that the minister had appeared before the court and joined the trial.
Thus, in accordance with the law, his petition was accepted and his assets were restored to him.
“The criminal proceedings in the main case against him [Dar] were closed due to lack of jurisdiction after the amendments made [to] the NAO [National Accountability Ordinance], 1999 retrospectively through the National Accountability Amendment Acts, 2022,” the judgment added.
In September last year, the NAB law was amended
and accountability courts across the country began returning corruption references to the chairman of the anti-graft body.
The suspects could no longer be tried because the courts lacked jurisdiction.
NAB had filed a reference against Dar in September 2017 on the recommendations of the Supreme Court in its Panama Papers case judgment that disqualified then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
In the reference against Dar, NAB had alleged that “the accused has acquired assets and pecuniary interests/resources in his own name and/or in the name of his dependants of an approximate amount of Rs831.678 million”.
The reference claimed that the assets were “disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account”.
After his indictment in September 2017, Dar left the country and remained in self-exile for the next five years.
During this period, he was declared a proclaimed offender and an accountability court also issued perpetual warrants against him on December 11, 2017.
However, in September this year, the warrants were suspended until October 7, giving Dar a fortnight to surrender to the law.
Dar returned to the country after concluding his visit to New York and London on September 26.
He appeared before the accountability court on September 28 in the assets reference, right after taking oath of office as federal minister.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ