Pakistan’s embattled Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is likely to skip the trial proceedings on November 14 in the graft case, a media report said on Sunday. Dar, 67, intended to file an application before the accountability court seeking an exemption from personal attendance and the appointment of a pleader who would represent him during the trial proceedings, the Dawn reported, citing sources privy to the development.
It may be mentioned that the accountability court judge, Mohammad Bashir, on November 8 had ordered Dar’s guarantors to appear in the court in person and also ensure that he also appears before the court on November 14.
The sources said the finance minister through his counsel Khawaja Haris would move an application with the court to appoint Qausain Faisal Mufti Advocate as his pleader.
The finance minister is likely to seek exemption from personal appearance and appoint pleader in his place.
The sources claimed that the accountability court had the power to allow such an application.
Even otherwise the General Clauses Act and the principle of natural justice also empower the court to exempt an accused from personal appearances in exceptional cases.
According to the sources, due to his deteriorated health Dar cannot personally attend the proceedings as he is undergoing medical treatment.
On November 8 while issuing a warning to Dar’s surety-givers, Bashir said the court would confiscate the surety bonds worth Rs 5 million if they failed to appear before the court.
In the reference against Dar, NAB alleged that “the accused has acquired assets and pecuniary interests/resources in his own name and/or in the name of his dependents of an amount of Rs 831.678 million (approx).”
The reference alleged that the assets of Dar were “disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for.”
NAB, however, termed the reference “interim” since it was based on the “material collected by JIT, FIA and NAB till date” and said it reserved the right to file a supplementary reference.
According to the reference, any role of the incumbent chief executive officer of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) is yet to be established “in aiding and abetting the accused (Ishaq Dar) in the acquisition of the stated properties.”
During the hearing on November 8, the NAB prosecution had requested the court to issue non-bailable warrants for Dar. However, the court reissued bailable warrants with a direction to NAB to verify the medical reports of the finance minister.
The case was filed against Dar by the NAB in the light of the Supreme Court order of July 28 that disqualified Nawaz Sharif as prime minister in the Panama Papers scandal.
The NAB had registered three cases of corruption and money laundering against Sharif, his family members and Finance Minister Dar in the Islamabad Accountability Court, weeks after the Supreme Court order ousted the premier.