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March 27, 2020

SHC issues notice to NAB on elderly man’s plea for bail over coronavirus threat

Karachi

March 27, 2020

The Sindh High Court on Thursday issued notices to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and others on a bail application of a man accused of involvement in corruption.

Barkat Ali was booked along with other persons by NAB in a corruption reference. The petitioner’s counsel submitted that SHC had earlier rejected the bail application of the petitioner without considering the medical grounds of the petitioner, who was aged and suffering from different ailments.

He submitted that in light of the highly infectious and lethal global pandemic of novel coronavirus, the petitioner, being classified as highly vulnerable to the coronavirus and being a seriously ill and infirm person, was liable to be granted post-arrest bail.

He added that the trial court framed charges on November 1, 2018, and only one witness out of 62 witnesses had been “partially” examined so far. He submitted that the trial court was still lying vacant, and the trial had come to a halt, causing grave and extreme hardship to the petitioner.

He submitted that the petitioner was also a senior citizen of Pakistan as he was 65 years of age and had a history of serious medical conditions and ailments, which required him to regularly visit his doctors and necessitate admissions in hospital.

The counsel said that in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the petitioner stands as one of the most vulnerable victims to the virus, which is an immediate threat to his life if not prevented from the very outset.

He submitted that the Central Prison in Karachi was extremely overcrowded and lackd the requisite quarantine facilities required for the prevention of the coronavirus pandemic, and whilst it might be safe for younger prisoners, the petitioner being old-aged faced an immediate threat to his life should even a single infected person or surface come in contact with him on any occasion whilst being present in the prison facilities, travelling for medical check-ups/treatments and being produced before the trial court for the date of hearings.

The court was requested to grant the petitioner post-arrest bail upon furnishing a solvent surety to the satisfaction of the Nazir of the court. The court, after a preliminary hearing of the petition, issued a notice to NAB and others and called their comments on the next date of hearing.