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January 28, 2021

Transfer of Zardari cases from Islamabad to Karachi: SC issues notices to NAB chief, others

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January 28, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal over a petition filed by former president Asif Ali Zardari, seeking transfer of corruption cases filed against him in the Islamabad’s accountability courts to Karachi.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, while hearing the matter, also issued notices to others, including Faryal Talpur, sister of Asif Ali Zardari.

Last year in December Justice Umar Ata Bandial, while hearing the matter in his Chamber, had admitted for regular hearing, the appeal of former president and directed its office to fix the matter after the winter vacation that started from December 21 and ended on January 3, 2021.

On November 24, 2020, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, while hearing the appeal of former president Asif Ali Zardari in his Chamber, had set aside the objections raised by the Registrar's Office and directed to fix the matter before an open court for hearing within two weeks.

The former president had requested the apex court through his counsel Farooq H Naek to transfer the corruption references filed by NAB against him from the accountability courts, Islamabad, to Karachi.

The counsel for Asif Zardari had contended in the petition that his client could not appear before the Accountability Courts in the federal capital as he was suffering from various ailments and had been critically ill.

Similarly, Farooq H Naek had submitted that the cases were being heard in Islamabad courts despite the fact that all the accused persons, witnesses and documents are from Karachi. He, therefore, prayed the apex court to transfer the cases from Islamabad to Karachi.

On Wednesday, during the course of hearing Farooq H Naek, while arguing before the court, submitted that as per the NAB law, one can file an application for transferring his case. Justice Umar Ata Bandial observed that the court will have to review the circumstances whereby the apex court had issued directions for filing the reference in the Accountability Court (Islamabad).

Justice Bandial cited the apex court judgment of January 7, 2009 wherein the court had issued directions for transferring all cases related to the fake accounts from Karachi to Islamabad. Farooq Naek, however, contended that the legal right of an individual cannot be revoked by the court’s order. At this, Justice Bandial observed that the court’s order mentioned several allegations against the accused due to which references were filed in the Accountability Court, Islamabad, and on the direction of the court as well.

Justice Bandial asked the learned counsel as to whether earlier references were ever filed against the accused in Islamabad to which Farooq Naek submitted that his client had been acquitted from all the cases, adding that references were filed against his client in Rawalpindi and Lahore. The court adjourned the hearing for a month.