ISLAMABAD: An accountability court here on Wednesday dismissed Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s plea seeking continuation of graft reference trial in his absence on medical grounds, ARY News reported.
The finance minister is currently out of country.
At the outset of the proceedings today, Dar’s lead counsel Khawaja Harris submitted another plea to seek an exemption for his client from personal appearance before the court on the medical grounds. He informed the court that Dar underwent an angiography test in London but his client was still to undergo an echocardiography (diagnostic cardiac ultrasound) test.
The counsel pleaded the court to continue the trial in the graft reference filed by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) amid Dar’s absence. He said his client has appointed Zafir Khan Tareen as his representative.
It merits mentioning here that Tareen has been representing former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his absence during the accountability proceedings.
Opposing the plea, NAB prosecutor Imran Shafeeq asserted that the finance minister was deliberately skipping the proceedings and making the lame excuses.
The prosecutor asked the court to issue ‘non-bailable’ arrest warrant for Dar.
Judge Muhammad Bashir after hearing arguments of both sides, rejected both pleas filed by the respondent and prosecution while directing Dar’s counsel to ensure Dar’s presence till next hearing on Nov 14 (Tuesday), besides submission of bail bond worth Rs2 million.
It merits highlighting here that Dar has been skipping the accountability proceedings against him. The minister is accused of possessing assets which are disproportionate to his known sources of income in a reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
On Nov 2, the court approved Dar’s plea filed by his counsel Ayesha Hamid, seeking an exemption for her client from personal appearance before the court in the graft reference on the medical grounds till Nov 8 (today).
A medical certificate was also submitted in the court.
Opposing the plea, NAB’s deputy prosecutor asserted that the finance minister was not afflicted with any kind of illness and deliberately evading the graft proceedings against him.
The prosecutor contended that medical tests for any kind of ailment were also possible in the country, hence the finance minister was making unwarranted excuses to skip the court proceedings.
Judge Muhammad Bashir announced the decision on the plea, granting the finance minister a temporary exemption from personal appearance before the court till the next hearing on Nov 8.
Attachment of Dar’s assets
On Nov 2 again, the court approved a request filed by the anti-graft body to freeze the assets of Dar while rejecting Dar’s request of spending Rs0.6 million monthly from the accounts for personal expenses.
All bank accounts belonging to Dar, other than those operated by accountant general revenue, were to be frozen in compliance of the court orders.
Meantime, the court had rejected NAB’s plea seeking issuance of ‘non-bailable’ arrest warrants for Dar after he skipped the graft proceedings.
Earlier on Oct 18, the NAB chairman gave a green light to the bureau to freeze Dar’s assets. However, as per NAB laws, the permission needed the court’s endorsement.
It merits mentioning here that the NAB has been seeking freezing six bank accounts of Dar, besides other properties, investments, and vehicles in two countries; Pakistan and United Arab Emirates (UAE).