IHC dismisses Dar’s plea challenging charge sheet against him

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) dismissed plea challenging charge sheet framed by the Accountability Court in an interim reference against Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar.

Justice Athir Minnallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurengzeb dismissed plea after hearing preliminary arguments placed by Khawaja Haris counsel for the petitioner.

Before dismissing the petitions, however the bench clarified that the petitioner had right to approach the monitoring judge of the apex court if he had objections over procedure of the court concerned.

In the petition Khawaja Haris stated that in purported compliance to the judgment dated July 21, 2017 passed by the Supreme Court in Panama papers case, an interim reference against Finance Minister was pending before the respondent, Accountability Court.

He said that Ishaq Dar duly appeared before Accountability Court on September 25, 2017 when the copy of reference along with interim investigation report and documents comprising 23 volumes were supplied to the petitioner, whereafter matter was adjourned for September 27, 2017 for framing of charge.

The Petitioner filed, inter alia, an application before the accountability court for postponing the framing of charge on the ground that the said charge should only be framed not earlier than seven days of supply of the documents including investigation report.

After hearing the arguments of the parties upon the aforesaid application of the Petitioner, the Accountability Court proceeded to dismiss the application vide order dated September 27, 2017.

Khawaja pleaded that the order dated September 27, 2017 of Accountability Court was illegal and unlawful, inter alia.

The counsel took strong grounds and said that as per provision of Section 265 © Cr.P.C,law mandated that a charge sheet could not be framed against the accused before the seven days after supply of the documents.

However, the NAB while rejecting the application had totally misconstrued the provision of section 265 © Cr.P.0 and the order was manifestly illegal and without lawful authority, he added.

That the impugned order had been passed in breach of Article 4 a the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 which, inter alia, mandate that every citizen should be dealt in accordance with the law, he added.

That passing of impugned order in breach of mandatory provision of law has resulted in great prejudice to the Petitioner inasmuch as that the Petitioner did not have fair opportunity of perusal of the entire material comprising 23 volumes on the basis of which the charge was to be framed, he alleged.

That as matter of fact, the framing of charge without observing mandatory provision of law was in breach of principle of fair trial guaranteed by Constitution of Pakistan.

The Petitioner’s right to fair trial was further compromised by the fact that copy of charge sheet had yet not been provided to Petitioner while the Reference is fixed for the recording of the evidence of the prosecution on October 4, 2017,he added.

As such the Petitioner was likely to be seriously prejudice firstly on account that he had been deprived of right of raising any objection to framing of charge and secondly on account that statement of prosecution witness were going to be recorded without the Petitioner having been duly apprises of the contents of the charge to which he had to answer and in the light of which he has to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses.

Even otherwise the impugned order was illegal void without lawful authority hence the same was liable to be set-aside, Haris maintained.

He prayed to the IHC that the instant writ petition be accepted and the impugned order dated September 27, 2017 be set aside and the Petitioner may be given adequate opportunity to raise objection to the farming of charge and its contents before calling and recording of the prosecution witnesses.

Further prayed that till the final adjudication of the instant petition, the proceedings before the accountability court may very kindly be stayed.

Subsequently after hearing the arguments at length, the bench dismissed petition and remarked that legally NAB could not be barred from proceedings against corruption references.