IHC to scrutinise NAB head's powers of issuing warrants.

Byline: Malik Asad

ISLAMABAD -- The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has decided to scrutinise powers of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman of issuing arrest warrants, observing that unfettered powers of arrest are contradictory to fundamental rights of citizens.

An IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Lubna Saleem Pervez was hearing two petitions seeking post-arrest bail for former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal.

The bench adjourned the hearing to Feb 20 as in both the cases the court spent more time in determining the powers of arrest vested in the NAB chairman.

Justice Minallah asked a number of questions from NAB additional prosecutor general Jahanzeb Khan Bharwana and its investigation officers about the LNG terminal case against Mr Abbasi and the Narowal Sports City (NSC) project for which Mr Iqbal is facing an inquiry for expanding the scope of the scheme.

Says unfettered powers are contradictory to fundamental rights of citizens

Ironically, in both the cases, the NAB prosecution could not provide satisfactory answers to the questions put to them by the court regarding reasons for issuance of the arrest warrants that too at the inquiry stage.

Justice Minallah observed that the arrest of a citizen without any justification was against the fundamental rights, liberty and dignity. He asked the NAB prosecution as well as the investigation officers to explain 'what were the compelling circumstances that led NAB to issue arrest warrants'.

The investigation officer informed the court that Mr Iqbal was not cooperating with the investigation team.

Mr Iqbal's counsel Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri produced six call-up notices before the court, saying that the former interior minister was cooperating with NAB and appeared before the investigation team whenever he was summoned. He said that on his sixth appearance in December last year, the investigation officer arrested him from the NAB premises.

'Why do you think that the arrest was indispensible and what led you to believe that the investigation could not be conducted without arresting him?' asked Justice Minallah.

The investigation officer replied that there were apprehensions that Mr Iqbal might tamper with evidence.

'Didn't you take the relevant record in your custody when the inquiry was entrusted to you?' the bench asked him again.

The officer replied that Mr Iqbal was so powerful that he had manipulated...

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