Court approves Fawad Chaudhry's 6-day physical remand in graft case

Fawad was taken into custody by NAB in a case related to misappropriation in construction projects in Jhelum

By
Arfa Feroz Zake
Police officials escort former federal minister Fawad Chaudhry to present him before a court in Lahore on January 25, 2023. — AFP
Police officials escort former federal minister Fawad Chaudhry to present him before a court in Lahore on January 25, 2023. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court in Islamabad on Saturday approved former federal minister Fawad Chaudhry's six-day physical remand in a case related to misappropriation in construction projects in Jhelum. 

Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir conducted the hearing of the case today. Fawad was brought to the court after the completion of his 10-day physical remand.

The court remarked that the investigation of the case should be completed while Fawad should also be allowed to meet his lawyers. The former minister will be presented before the court on January 5, 2024. 

Fawad was taken into custody earlier this month by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in connection with the corruption case. 

NAB Chairman Lt-Gen (retd) Nazir Ahmed Butt had signed an arrest warrant for appreheding the politician after which he was taken into custody from Adiala jail — where he was incarcerated in a separate fraud case. 

The former minister's lawyer and brother, Faisal Chaudhry, and NAB Prosecutor Sohail Arif were also present in the courtroom.

Today's hearing

Fawad, while presenting his arguments, told the court that four allegations were levelled against him. 

“I was accused of using my influence while being a minister. The project was of the PSDP (Public Sector Development Programmes) and its approval was given," he said. 

"It was my duty to convey the demands of my area’s residents to the government. If I don't work for the people of my constituency then what's the point of being in politics," he added. 

“The project was approved by the federal and provincial governments,” he said.

The former minister said that the NAB did not have the jurisdiction to start an inquiry against him. "It appeared as if the NAB prosecution could not find a chance for investigation yet," he said.

Fawad told the court that there was no contractor as the project was under Frontier Works Organisation (FWO). 

He said he received his first notice when he was in Adiala jail while pleading to the court to discharge him from the case.

Presenting his arguments, the NAB prosecutor said that they had asked for a 14-day physical remand but were given only 10 days. 

"Banking records, indicating suspicions of irregularities, have been sought. The contractor has also been summoned on January 2," he added.

Arif said that the NAB wants to further investigate Fawad while requesting a 10-day extension in the former information minister's physical remand. 

"Fawad Chaudhry's 10-day physical remand should be given to complete the investigation," said the NAB prosecutor, adding that they have also summoned two more people in connection with the construction projects. 

Arif added that the contractor had transferred eight out of 16 kanals to the politico. "Fawad should get work done in his areas but legally. NAB will take notice if there is misappropriation," he argued. 

Later, Advocate Faisal said that the prosecution should present the banking transaction before the court if there is any. 

He argued that Fawad was arrested so that he could not contest the upcoming general elections on February 8, 2024, while opposing Fawad's physical remand.

Politician faces multiple cases

The politician was initially arrested from his Islamabad residence on November 4 after a complaint was filed against him in Islamabad's Aabpara Police Station for taking a Rs5 million bribe in exchange for a job. 

In January, too, Fawad was taken into custody from his residence after he publicly "threatened" the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in a media talk outside former PTI chief Imran Khan's residence in Zaman Park. However, the then-coalition government said it had no hand in the politician's arrest.

The politician, in June this year, issued an apology to the electoral watchdog for allegedly using “intemperate” language targeting the ECP and Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja.

Fawad was also among the thousands of party workers and leaders who were arrested during the crackdown on the PTI since May 9 for the party’s alleged involvement in the riots that claimed at least eight lives and injured dozens of others.

In June, the former minister was among the PTI leaders who were present during the launching ceremony of the Istihkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP), which is headed by Khan's close political aide Jahangir Tareen.