PTI founder appears in SC today via video link in NAB amends case

IHC grants bail to jailed Imran in £190m corruption case

ISLAMABAD   -   Incarcerated former prime minister and PTI founding chairman Imran Khan will appear in the Supreme Court today through video link in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAB) amendments case.

The apex court the other day had directed the federal and the Punjab governments to make arrangements for the appearance of Imran Khan through video link from the jail. The court had also asked the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) that he would have to ensure that the video-link function properly otherwise it would adjourn the case.

The Supreme Court is conducting hearing of the Intra-Court Appeal (ICA) of the federation and some appellants, whose petitions were pending before the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

NAB was asked to inform the court about the number of cases in which NAB court convictions were upheld by the high court or the Supreme Court, the money recovered by it so far and in which bank account it was kept, and whether NAB took any share from the recovered amount.

Last year, Imran Khan, through a number of lawyers including senior advocate Khawaja Haris, had filed a petition under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution against the amendments in the National Accountability Ordinance 1999. 

The court on 31st October 2023 had issued notices to former prime minister Imran Khan and Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The notices were also issued to the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) and the Advocates General of all the provinces and Islamabad.

The SC office was directed to serve the copies of appeals and its order to Imran Khan in jail.

Earlier in the day, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) granted bail to Imran Khan in the 190 million pounds case.

A division bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri announced the verdict which it had reserved earlier after both the sides had concluded their arguments in Imran’s bail plea.

Special Prosecutor Amjad Pervez presented his arguments on behalf of the NAB while Sardar Latif Khosa Advocate appeared before the court as the counsel of Imran. 

In its written judgment, the bench noted, the instant petition is allowed and petitioner is admitted to bail after arrest in the aforementioned reference subject to furnishing bail bonds in the sum of Rs one million with two sureties in the like amount to the satisfaction of the Trial Court.

It added, “It is pertinent to state that observations made hereinabove are tentative in nature and shall not prejudice the trial Court in any manner while deciding the Reference against the petitioner.”

The bench also observed that the amount transmitted from United Kingdom to Pakistan is not £190 million, but after deduction is approximately £171.15 million and the legal framework agreement which witnesses transaction between the family of Malik Riaz Hussain and NCA, UK is not on record but the government of Pakistan was made to sign the deed of confidentiality which was executed on 06.11.2019 but its sanction was obtained on 03.12.2019 and the sanction does not provide for retrospective approval or rectification of the act.

It stated that Special Prosecutor appearing for NAB was right in saying that money ought to have been transferred in the Government of Pakistan accounts rather than for settlement of liability of Bahria Town Pvt. Limited in the sum of Rs.460 billion inasmuch as there are various provision under the United Nations Charter for Prevention of Corruption which says that the proceeds from the crimes are to be remitted to the States.

The IHC verdict said that in the world of transparency, it is surprising that money received from abroad which was either laundered or illegally transferred was kept hidden from the public of Pakistan. However, the prosecution needs to connect the exercise of authority with the gratification to make out case under section 9(a)(i) and (iv) of the Ordinance.

The bench also said that there is no cavil with principles laid down in the case law cited by both the sides, however, in Manzoor versus the State (PLD 1972 SC 81) supra, the Supreme Court of Pakistan observed that where trial has commenced, bail ought not be decided on merit, is not a legal principle but is something based on practice.

It maintained that there is no established principle of law that where trial has commenced and even is at advanced stage, this Court is barred to adjudicate the bail on merit, however, the courts while doing so ought not delve into the merits of the matter deeply lest it might prejudice the case of any side.

The IHC bench said, “Keeping in view the above principles, this Court is mindful of the fact that it cannot go in deeper appreciation of the matter and is to make only tentative prime facie assessment of the evidence as discretion while deciding the bail cannot be exercised arbitrarily or at the whims of the Court but obviously on the merits as are apparent from the available record.”

“As noted above, case of the prosecution is that gratification was received by the petitioner by way of land in Sohawa which eventually was transferred to the Trust of which the petitioner is a settlor/writer/ chairman and trustee alongwith donation of Rs.280 Million and further allotment of land measuring approximately 240 Kanals in Mouza Mohri Noor, Islamabad in favour of Farhat Shahzadi. The concept of ‘gratification’ is elaborated in section 161 read with section 165 PPC and also is part of the corruption and corrupt practices as provided in section 9(a) (i) of the Ordinance. The word ‘gratification’ as defined and explained in section 161 ibid is that the same is not restricted to pecuniary gratifications or to gratifications estimable in money,” maintained the court.

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