Court puts off graft case against Ishaq Dar owing to IHC stay order

ISLAMABAD (NNI): An accountability court on Tuesday adjourned hearing of the assets reference against former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar till January 18 owing to Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) stay order.

At the outset, the NAB prosecutor informed Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir that the IHC has granted a stay order, restraining the trial court from proceeding in the case till January 17. He also placed on record a copy of the high court order.

Subsequently, the judge adjourned the hearing till January 18.

Earlier, the IHC had restrained the accountability court from proceeding against the former finance minister till further orders.

The restraining order had come on a petition filed by Dar challenging the trial court’s order that declared him a proclaimed offender over his perpetual absence from the trial proceedings in the assets reference.

A division bench, comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, had also barred the trial court from taking any action against Dar’s guarantor, Ahmed Ali Quddusi.

Dar moved the high court through his counsel, alleging that the accountability judge Muhammad Bashir declared him a proclaimed offender without fulfilling the mandatory requirements.

He pointed out that the trial court started the process of confiscation of his properties a few days after the issuance of proclamation. However, the law requires the court to start this process at least 30 days after publication of proclamation.

The former finance minister had requested the court to declare the trial court’s order of pronouncing him proclaimed offender as illegal and void.

Meanwhile, the bench extended its stay order, restraining the authorities concerned from attaching movable property of Ishaq Dar’s guarantor Ahmed Ali Quddusi for one day.

On December 11, the Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir had ordered to attach movable properties of the surety giver over his failure to ensure Dar’s presence in court.

The IHC bench will take up the petition on Jan 17.

The court had declared Ishaq Dar a proclaimed offender for being absent in the court’s proceedings in a corruption reference filed against him by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in compliance with Supreme Court’s landmark July 28 verdict.

According to the NAB reference, the accused had acquired assets and pecuniary interests/resources in his name or in the name of his dependents of an approximate amount of Rs831.678 million as per the investigation conducted so far.

The assets are disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for, the accountability watchdog said.