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Assets beyond means case: Court terminates trial against Dar

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar speaks during an interview in Washington, DC, on October 14, 2022. — AFP

An accountability court in Islamabad on Tuesday ended the criminal proceedings against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in an assets beyond means case.

A case was filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in December 2017 against Dar, accusing him of possessing assets disproportionate to his declared sources of income.

The court remarked that it no longer has the authority to hear the case or releasing a verdict on pleas seeking acquittal after the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Act 2022. 

Judge Mohammad Bashir remarked while announcing the verdict reserved by the court a day earlier.

“We can neither announce a decision in favour of NAB nor can we issue a decision in favour of the suspect. The trial against Ishaq Dar ends here,” Judge Bashir added.

Courts across the country have returned cases after the government amended the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 a few months back as several cases do not fall under their jurisdiction anymore.

A case was filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in December 2017 against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, accusing him of possessing assets disproportionate to his declared sources of income.

A reference against the PML-N leader was filed by NAB in light of the Supreme Court’s July 28, 2017, verdict in the Panama Papers case.

Dar had also been declared a proclaimed offender by the accountability court due to his continuous absence from the proceedings — but in October 2022, the court suspended his arrest warrants after he appeared before it.

The PML-N leader was residing in London for five years in self-exile and after the formation of the coalition government, he came back to the country to take charge as the finance czar.

In August, the National Assembly passed the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill, 2022, which sought to exclude private transactions from the scope of NAB.

Under the amended bill, the pecuniary jurisdiction of NAB had been fixed to only take action against mega scandals. Furthermore, it had been proposed that supplementary references can only be filed with the permission of the court to expedite the proceedings of the court within one year.

As per the bill, the investigation officers shall not harass any person during the investigation or inquiry and they will confine their questions relevant to the investigation or inquiry or for extracting evidence.

Following the amendment, accountability courts withdrew 50 major corruption cases against suspects, including cases against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, former chief minister Punjab Hamza Shahbaz, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf, and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani. 

Source: The News

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