ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday issued a notice to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for summoning Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, in the Toshakhana case without following the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
The IHC took up the pleas filed by Khan and Bushra Bibi, challenging the call-up notices of February 17 and March 16 issued by the anti-graft watchdog.
Bushra Bibi’s petition prayed to the court that the NAB call-up notices should be declared illegal.
It moved the court to stay the inquiry by changing the investigation till the final decision of the Toshakhana case and also stay the disciplinary action against the petitioners based on the call-up notices.
A division bench headed by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq heard the pleas.
Khawaja Haris, the counsel representing the former premier and first lady, maintained that the NAB’s notices didn’t state in which capacity the information was being sought.
“Providing complete information about the notices is mandatory for NAB as per the judicial orders,” Advocate Haris said.
At this, CJ Farooq inquired about the procedure of serving notices as per the latest NAB amendments.
“The Amendment Act says the NAB must establish a reason and communicate it [to the receiver] for summoning someone,” the lawyer said responding to the query.
“As per the amendment law, it should be mentioned whether anyone was summoned as an accused or summoned for any other reason.”
At this, CJ Farooq inquired whether Imran Khan received the summons.
The lawyer then presented the NAB’s call-up notices served to Khan, in court.
“We weren’t provided information in the notices. It only mentioned that it was about an inquiry against public office holders,” the lawyer stated.
He further stated that the Cabinet Division and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), which also come under the banner of public offices, were also involved in the Toshakhana gifts case.
The CJ of the IHC then asked if Imran Khan appeared [before NAB authorities] in response to these notices.
“No he (Khan) did not,” the lawyer replied and added, “He sent a written response only”.
At this, Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz asked did the NAB take any action against Khan over his response. “No, it did not,” the lawyer replied.
“Maybe they [NAB] are convinced with Imran Khan’s response that there was not case,” CJ Farooq observed.
At this, the lawyer said that petitioners feared that NAB would turn the inquiry into an investigation.
“The notice was served the next day after [former NAB chairman] Aftab Sultan resigned,” the lawyer contended.
The court then asked the NAB prosecutor to present his arguments.
The IHC CJ asked if a notice had been served to Khan again.
At this, the NAB prosecutor informed the court that a reminder had been sent to the former premier.
“Your notices do not reflect compliance with judicial orders. We are not restricting NAB from anything now,” CJ Farooq remarked before reserving the verdict on Khan and Bushra Bibi’s pleas.
The court announced the verdict later while issuing notices to NAB for its reply.