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Tuesday April 16, 2024

FIA asks SHC to dismiss PTI pleas in foreign funding case

By Jamal Khurshid
November 04, 2022

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Thursday requested the Sindh High Court (SHC) to dismiss the petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders, including former Sindh governor Imran Ismail, against the initiation of the foreign funding inquiry.

Filing comments on the PTI’s petitions, an FIA official said that the subject inquiry has been initiated in accordance with the law, and the FIA is the competent authority to investigate banking crimes in the country.

The FIA officer said the agency is investigating the bank accounts that were opened without the mandatory documents, adding that the FIA is authorised to find any discrepancy committed in the opening of the bank accounts.

He said PTI leaders have admitted in court that the party has owned only eight of the 24 accounts between 2008 and 2013. He added that the Peshawar High Court has also declared the FIA’s proceedings as lawful in an identical matter, and requested that the SHC dismiss the petitions.

After taking the comments on record, an SHC division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha directed the law officer to supply the same to the petitioners’ counsel, who sought time to go through the same.

The court adjourned the matter until December 6, continuing the interim order restraining the FIA from taking any coercive action against petitioners Ismail, Seema Zia, Samar Ali Khan, Mohammad Najeeb Haroon and Mohammad Javed Umer.

Ismail and others had challenged the initiation of an FIA inquiry after the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) order in the PTI’s foreign funding case. The petitioners’ counsel said the FIA’s impugned notices telling the petitioners to appear in respect of the bank accounts operated by the PTI were issued after the ECP order.

He said the ECP had not referred the matter to the FIA, and the notices issued by the FIA were, therefore, without jurisdiction and aimed to only harass and humiliate the petitioners. The counsel said the FIA’s notices were issued with mala fide intention because no law permits the FIA to even initiate an inquiry for an affair even if observed by the ECP as an unknown account, though it was opened and operated by the petitioner and co-signatories for election campaign purposes.

He said that neither the ECP nor the federal government can issue directions to any agency for the fulfilment of their allegedly ill-wishes to take cognisance of a matter that does not fall within the ambit or is totally beyond the jurisdiction of the FIA.

The court was requested to declare that the initiation of the inquiry pertaining to the petitioners’ bank accounts closed in such an undue haste was without lawful authority, and to set aside the call-up notice issued by the FIA to the petitioners.