Wednesday May 06 2020

Chaudhry brothers approach LHC against NAB chair's jurisdiction

LAHORE: PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and his cousin, Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, on Tuesday approached the Lahore High Court (LHC) against National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairperson's jurisdiction.

In their joint petition challenging NAB chairperson Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal, the Chaudhry brothers alleged that the anti-graft watchdog was an institution of political engineering and raised questions on its investigative authority.

The two politicians further underlined that the courts have earlier ruled on the NAB's role and erroneous methods of investigation. They further stressed that Iqbal had ordered once again ordered a probe into a 19-year-old matter, noting that the anti-corruption body had no authority to reopen an almost two-decade-old case that had already been closed.

Noting that they belong to a political household, the Chaudhry brothers underscored that they have held important posts, including that of the prime minister and Punjab chief minister, in the past. Their petition also referenced Hussain's father, Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi, who had been declared a prisoner of conscience by an international organisation.

They requested the LHC to declare the NAB's move to reopen the almost two-decade-old case as illegal.

The NAB has been involved in reopening similar cases against various other people as well, including Jang Geo Media Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, who was arbitrarily arrested by the anti-graft body on March 12 in relation to a property he had purchased from a private party 34 years ago.

Also read: Amal Clooney’s law firm files appeal at UN against MSR’s 'arbitrary arrest' by NAB

Hussain, the PML-Q president, had earlier said he had gone through the case filed against MSR, noting that he was sure the editor-in-chief of Pakistan's top news organisation would be "proved innocent and acquitted".

The NAB has also targeted PML-N stalwart and former railways minister, Khawaja Saad Rafique, and his brother, Salman, through a corruption reference pertaining to a housing society scam. The two were arrested by the anti-graft watchdog on December 11, 2019, after the LHC rejected their request for an extension in their pre-arrest bail.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan had in March approved their bails against two Rs3-million bonds after they had approached it over the LHC's move to cancel their bail plea.

Also read: Arrest warrants issued for Shahid Khaqan over alleged 'illegal hirings' as minister

Separately, the NAB had last year arrested former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for alleged corruption while awarding, as the minister for petroleum and natural resources, a multi-billion rupee LNG import contract in 2013.

According to the NAB's then-arrest warrant, Abbasi was accused of commission of the offence of corruption and corrupt practices under section 9 (a) of National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

Although the Islamabad High Court (IHC) granted him bail in a separate corruption reference later, an accountability court again issued non-bailable arrest warrants for him last month. The latest arrest warrants were issued over alleged illegal hiring during his tenure as the petroleum minister.