NAB has been under severe criticism for a number of years for its poor performance and it is claimed that governments have been using this accountability institution for their political interests and objectives. Now the honorable courts have fixed their guns towards the NAB and the LHC and IHC both expressed their displeasure over NAB’s actions against PML-N stalwarts Khawaja Asif and Ahsan Iqbal.
IHC on Wednesday observed in the bail petition of Ahsan Iqbal that the NAB had deprived the accused of liberty just on the allegations of misusing the authority without proving it. This is to notify that the NAB had arrested Mr Ahsan on December 23, 2019 on account of enhancing the scope of Narowal sports complex and executing it through the federal government.
The court observed that the NAB counsel could not provide sufficient material to justify the allegations of corruption and corrupt practices. The court also observed that without crucial elements NAB’s step of arresting an accused was nothing but an abuse of the power.
The NAB counsel could not justify the allegations of corruption and corrupt practices on Ahsan Iqbal, IHC observed
On the other side, the Lahore High Court (LHC) observed that the NAB could not justify its allegations on Khawaja Asif about making illegal assets and money laundering. The court also observed that Mr Asif did not cause any loss to the national exchequer.
The two-judge bench including Justice Aalia Neelum and Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi noted that the NAB counsel failed to prove that the remittance of Rs 107 million was generated through the proceeds of crime. The bench also observed that the bureau prosecutor categorically admitted that it was not a case of the prosecution of making assets through kickbacks or illegal money or corruption or abusing the authority.
Bureau Counsel failed to prove that remittance of Rs 107 million was generated through the proceeds of crime, LHC observed in Khwaja Asif case
The bench noted that the foreign remittance declared in income tax returns always carried the elements of truthfulness and the FBR also supplemented the claim of accused in connection with the income and foreign remittance.
The judges also mentioned that the NAB showed different stances in two reports. The salary amount withdrawn by Mr and Mrs Khawaja Asif was reported to be Rs29.717 million and Rs10.692 million respectively in the first report which surprisingly was reduced to Rs28.772 million collectively in NAB’s second report on June 18, 2021. The court noted that the bureau’s counsel could not justify the reduction from Rs40.509 million to Rs28.772 million.
The bench also observed that no discrepancies were found as per the audit report. Moreover, the representative of the UAE-based International Mechanical and Electrical Company (IMECO) was not included in the investigation even upon his request of allowing him to come to Pakistan. The audit report also stated that the NAB did not verify Khawaja Asif’s overseas income with the embassy; which he had declared in his income tax returns.
The court also noted that the prosecution had failed to establish its case before the trial court and therefore it was unlawful to detain Mr Asif anymore. The bench had granted post arrest bail to the former defense minister on June 23, 2021 through a short order.