SHC nullifies FIA’s letters for issuance of red warrants against Singaporean nationals

By Jamal Khurshid
June 17, 2024
A view of facade of the Sindh High Court building in Karachi. — AFP/File

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has declared issuance of the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) letters to obtain Interpol red warrants against two Singaporean nationals with regard to a money laundering and fraud scam inquiry as unlawful.

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The direction came on a petition filed by Dr Nasim Shahzad and Mohammad Umar Shehzad through their attorney Nudrat Khan Mand against two letters issued by the National Central Bureau Interpol (NCB-Interpol) to the ministry of interior for Interpol red notices against them in connection with a money laundering and fraud inquiry.

A counsel for the petitioners submitted that such an authority was not vested in the FIA or any other agency unless an order to this effect was issued by a competent court of jurisdiction in a criminal case to ensure appearance of any accused/proclaimed offender.

The counsel submitted that in the instant case, admittedly no order had been passed by the presiding officer of special courts. The petitioners’ counsel submitted that the petitioners would seek remedy against the criminal proceedings before the competent court of jurisdiction by filing transitory/protective bail so that they would be enable to defend their position.

He submitted that through the instant petition, the petitioners had sought a declaration with regard to the impugned letters that had been issued without a lawful authority in violation of the law.

The counsel submitted that there was no order of a court for the issuance of red warrant/notice against the petitioners who were foreign nationals. They submitted that legal requirements, including initiation of proceedings under the section 87/88 of the Code of Criminal Procedure read with the Section 512 had not yet been undertaken in the instant matter.

FIA Section Officer (Policy) Shireen Hina and a federal law officer filed comments on the petition. The high court asked the FIA section officer and federal law officer about the legality of the impugned letters. They submitted that only a process for issuance of red notices had been initiated against the petitioners whereas the trial court had already issued non-bailable arrest warrants against both the petitioners in the instant case.

The petitioners’ counsel submitted that there was no provision under the law for issuance of red warrants without orders of the competent court of jurisdiction. He prayed that the impugned notices be declared illegal and without lawful authority.

A division bench of the SHC headed by Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi after hearing the arguments and perusal of the letters observed that prima facie, the proceedings initiated by the NCB-Interpol and FIA in the case of the petitioners for the issuance of red warrants/notices had been initiated in the absence of any order from the competent court of jurisdiction.

The high court observed that the impugned letters were without lawful authority, hence of no legal effect. The bench observed that the respondents were at liberty to pursue the matter before the relevant forum/court and after obtaining the appropriate orders may take further step to secure the production of the absconding accused persons before the court in accordance with the law. The SHC observed that the petitioners were also at liberty to seek appropriate remedy by approaching the relevant forum/court to join the trial in accordance with the law.

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