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Dar challenges accountability court indictment in Islamabad High Court

Dar challenges accountability court indictment in Islamabad High Court

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Monday filed two petitions before the Islamabad High Court challenging his indictment by an accountability court in a reference pertaining to his ownership of “assets beyond his known sources of income”.

Last Monday, the court had rejected a request by Dar’s counsel, Amjad Pervez, to grant them seven days to peruse the record, saying that since the Supreme Court had set a six-month deadline, he could not adjourn proceedings for a week.

Dar had been indicted by the accountability court last Wednesday — less than 48 hours after he received a copy of the reference filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), along with copies of related documents which comprised 23 volumes.

The accountability court has never indicted an accused within 48 hours of his first appearance in court since the promulgation of the National Accountability Ordinance in 1999.

The petition filed by the finance minister today, through his counsel Khawaja Harris, is based on these grounds: that he was not granted the minimum seven days to review the material provided to him last Monday.

The petition states that under Section 265-C of the Code of Criminal Procedure, applicable to accountability court proceedings, the documents are to be provided to the accused “not later than seven days before the commencement of trial”.

A two-member division bench of the IHC, comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Mian Gul Hassan Aurgenzeb, will begin hearing the finance minister's petition on Tuesday.

NAB filed three references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his children and one against Dar on the directions of the Supreme Court on September 8.

On September 18, the Lahore NAB wrote to the State Bank of Pakistan to remind them that since a reference was pending against him, “the bank accounts of Dar may be cautioned”.

The bureau, however, left room for transactions from these accounts, as NAB has made this subject to the orders of the accountability court.

NAB has also written to district governments, asking them to stop any transfer or disposal of the properties owned by Dar; warning that, in case of non-compliance, they could face up to three years in prison under the National Accountability Ordinance.

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