ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday declared the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference against former president Asif Ali Zardari ultra vires and not according to the law.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah censured the NAB authorities saying that all its references got busted for not being prepared as per law. IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Amir Farooq heard a petition, filed by Zardari seeking his acquittal in the NAB reference against his property in America. The court tasked the anti-graft watchdog to make a new reference while excluding the income tax matter from it till Jan 18.
CJ Minallah remarked that NAB should first send the matter to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) before making the reference. He said that the Bureau was just wasting its time by making pointless references. He remarked that NAB was not above the law.
How the bureau could declare null and void the Income Tax Order by itself, the CJ observed adding that NAB did not have any jurisdiction to nullify the FBR Assessment Order. He directed the watchdog to send the case to the FBR as the revenue board did have the authority to look into the matter.
Farooq H Naek, counsel for Zardari, said that ex-president had filed acquittal plea before indictment, adding that the accountability court should have sought FBR’s comments first. He said that the matter did not fall in the jurisdiction of NAB.
Naek said that his client purchased the property and paid its price in cash. The NAB prosecutor said that his department had prepared the reference under Section 2, 4 and 12 of the Ordinance.
The prosecutor said that the top court had ordered NAB to investigate the fake bank accounts scam. He said that the property worth Rs150 million was purchased through the fake bank accounts’ transactions.
The former president had mentioned the price of property as Rs53 million. At this, the court asked that how NAB could be involved in matter of income tax. Justice Farooq said unfortunately that was a common practice to mention low price of the property across the country.
Naek said how it was called fake bank account when the account-holder concerned was available. The IHC chief justice remarked that NAB had option to send the matter to FBR.
The court also asked NAB to review its reference and exclude the figure of Rs53 million. The NAB prosecutor said the cases were investigated by the FIA and later shifted to NAB on directives of the top court. The court adjourned further hearing till January 19.