ISLAMABAD: NAB on Thursday moved the Supreme Court against bails to three PML-N stalwarts, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ahsan Iqbal and Miftah Ismail who were charged with corruption references by the bureau. The mentioned accused leaders were granted post-arrest bails by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
NAB had arrested Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former chairman of the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) Mr Ismail on July 18, 2019, and August 7, 2019, respectively, on account of discrepancies in the LNG terminal and branch pipelines project which had caused huge loss to national exchequer. Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had filed a complaint against the two persons in this regard which was later supplemented by other sources.
Ahsan Iqbal was arrested by the bureau on Dec 23, 2019 for enhancing the scope of the Narowal Sports City (NSC) project and executing it through central government instead of provincial government which the project actually belonged to. The project was initially launched at the cost of Rs35 million, without formal approval by the Central Development Working Party (CDWP).
It was alleged that Ahsan Iqbal not only high-jacked the provincial project but also instructed the design consultants to enhance its scope which increased the cost of the project to Rs2.49 billion through revised PC-1.
The IHC completely ignored the principles articulated by Supreme Court larger bench in Tallat Ishaq case in 2019, NAB contended
The appeals filed by the additional prosecutor general of NAB on behalf of the bureau chairman requested the Supreme Court to set aside the IHC orders regarding bail as the court completely ignored the principles articulated by SC larger bench in Tallat Ishaq case, 2019.
In that case, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had pointed out flaws in the NAB rules which stated that an accused person could only get bail through the high court. Justice Khosa observed that the NAB, through this section 9(b) had shifted its burden to the shoulders of high courts which resulted in an unnecessary wastage of their precious time.
Mr Khosa had advised legislation on amending the NAO so that an accused person might apply for bail to the relevant accountability court instead of hitting the high court at the first instance. In their appeal to the SC, NAB also mentioned that under Article 189 of the Constitution, the IHC was bound to bring into consideration, the extraordinary circumstances and extreme hardship vocalized by the apex court however the IHC completely neglected those.
The IHC treated the cases of the mentioned leaders as ordinary criminal cases despite the fact that they were charged for corruption and corrupt practices by the NAB, the appeal argued
The appeal also contended that the IHC treated the corruption cases of the PML-N leaders as ordinary criminal cases and did not consider the fact that they were involved in corruption and corrupt practices and should have been treated under the special law while the honorable court completely ousted the Criminal Procedure Code.
The appeals further argued that the Islamabad high court orders did not justify the law as it used the discretionary powers in a common, mechanical and arbitrary manner. The appeals therefore requested the apex court to set aside the bail orders of the former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former development minister Ahsan Iqbal and the former Finance Minister Miftah Ismail.