ISLAMABAD - Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday restrained the accountability court to indict former president and co-chairman of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zarari till the next hearing in a matter related to the Rs8.3 billion suspicious transactions in fake bank accounts case. 

A division bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing of the petition moved by Zardari’s counsel Farooq H Naek requesting the court to restrain the accountability court Islamabad from framing charges against the petitioner. 

Besides issuing the stay orders against Zardari’s indictment, the IHC bench also issued notices to the National Accountability Bureau and directed it to submit its response. 

After issuing the aforementioned directions, the court deferred the hearing in this matter for two weeks. 

Farooq H Naek said in the petition that he moved an acquittal plea under Section 265-D read with Section 256-K code of criminal procedure before Accountability Court-III Judge Syed Ashgar Ali but the court turned down Zardari’s plea and decided to indict him and the other accused on October 28. 

Court defers hearing for two weeks, directs NAB to submit response  

According to the petition, allegations against Zardari in the reference are regarding purchase of house no F-33, block-04, Clifton Karachi for a sum Rs150 million, admitted in the reference duly declared in the wealth statement filed before the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and statement of assets and liabilities submitted before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). 

It said that it is also admitted in the reference that conveyance deed of the said property was duly registered showing sale price paid in cash but it alleged that the payment was made through 18 cheques from joint account of Zain Malik and Mushtaq Ahmed. 

Petitioner’s counsel argued that while passing the order dated October 14, the AC failed to appreciate that the National Accountability (second amendment) Ordinance 2021 has been promulgated and some amendments have been made in NAO 1999 including Section 4, thereof, vide Section 2. 

He said that provision of the NAB (Second Amendment) Ordinance shall not be applicable to all matters pertaining to federal, provincial or local taxation or any person or entity, who are not directly or indirectly connected with the holder of public office. 

He maintained that after enforcement of NAB (Second Amendment) Ordinance all inquiries, investigation, trial or proceedings under the ordinance relating to the persons or transactions mentioned in sub-section 2 shall stand transferred to the concerned authorities departments and courts. 

Therefore, he prayed to the court to declare the said AC order as malafide, illegal, null and void abinitio while suspending the operation of the said order. 

He also requested the court to restrain the AC from framing charge against the petitioner and acquit him in the said reference.