Ishaq Dar indicted in assets reference case; hearing adjourned until Oct 4

The finance minister denied the charges and vowed to prove his innocence in court

Asif Bashir Chaudhary
Awais Yousafzai
Azaz Syed

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was indicted on Wednesday by the accountability court hearing the Supreme Court-directed corruption reference against him. 

Dar denied all charges and vowed to prove his innocence in court. 

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) submitted a list of 28 witnesses, which it will now begin to produce in court at the next hearing on October 4.

Dar reached the court a little before 9am amid tight security arrangements and faced trouble getting into the court complex owing to the huge crowd. 

Dar then got back into his vehicle as the gates of the complex were still shut. Police officials feared that if they opened the gates the hugh crowd would get into the complex.  

Later, security officials escorted Dar to the court complex from its rear gate. The media was disallowed from entering the premises, as were lawyers and litigants. 

However, a number of lawyers were seen climbing over the gate to enter the complex. 

Dar entering the court. Photo: Geo News

Once the charges against the finance minister were read out by Judge Mohammad Bashir, Dar refused to accept the charges.

According to sources, Dar vowed in court that his assets are according to his means, saying he will prove his innocence. 

The NAB then submitted a list of 28 witnesses to the court.

Dar pleaded the court to grant him exemption from appearance in the case as the charges have been levelled. However, NAB opposed Dar's plea and the court did not issue any order on it today.  

The court then ordered NAB to produce its witnesses and adjourned the hearing until October 4. 

Tariq Fazl Chaudhry speaks to the media on Wed

Speaking to the media after the hearing, state minister Tariq Fazl Chaudhry lamented that in such cases the accused are usually indicted after seven days from giving the reference copy. 

He said two of the 16 witnesses of NAB — bank officials from Lahore — have been summoned for the next hearing.

In response to a question, he said, "We didn’t stop media from coming in the courtroom".

The reference 

The corruption reference, pertaining to Dar's owning assets that are disproportionate to his known sources of income, was filed by the National Accountability Bureau in light of the Supreme Court's July 28 judgment in the Panama Papers case.

After skipping his first hearing, for which a summons had been issued, Dar appeared in court on Monday after bailable warrants for his arrest had been issued to ensure his presence. 

During Monday's hearing, Judge Mohammad Bashir observed that the finance minister would be indicted on the next hearing (today and also directed NAB to provide Dar with a copy of the NAB reference — spread over 23 volumes. 

Dar's counsel asked the court to be granted seven days for perusing the reference against his client but the judge denied the request, observing that the court has to complete the trial in six months as per the apex court's directions.

"If you take a month to read the reference how will we wrap up proceedings in the given time," the judge asked, observing further that two days are enough to go over the reference.

The judge observed that they will conduct daily hearings in the case and also directed Dar to deposit a Rs5 million surety bond to ensure his appearance at the hearings.

Talking to Geo News after the hearing, Dar's counsel, Amjad Pervez, said they expect the courts to dispense justice. "No one will object to daily proceedings if all tenets of justice are adhered to," he said while answering a question.

Editorial note: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of NAB's witnesses. The error is regretted.