NAB challenges maintainability of Zardari's petition -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

NAB challenges maintainability of Zardari’s petition

National Accountability Bureau’s attorney has challenged the maintainability of the petition filed by PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, seeking withdrawal of proceedings pending against him in UK and Geneva courts as well as NAB references before Accountability Courts by virtue of National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) 2007.

“The petition could not be entertained by this court as all references against the petitioner are being heard by Accountability Courts in Rawalpindi, therefore, this court has no jurisdiction to hear the petition,” Deputy Prosecutor General NAB Siddiq Mirza told the court, adding that none of the courts fall in the jurisdiction of this court.

With regard to the cases pending litigation before Swiss magistrate and UK court, he said that only the federal government was responsible to cause action in this regard.

Referring to Supreme Court’s proceedings for adjudicating petitions against the NRO, he said the Attorney General of Pakistan had submitted before the five-member bench on previous hearing that in view of the provisions of Article 270-AAA of the Constitution and the detailed judgment in Tikka Iqbal Mohammad Khan case the NRO would continue in force, making clear that the ordinance could exist in case Article 270-AAA was made a part of the Constitution.

He also questioned the validity of NRO, saying it was signed by the then Chief of Army Staff, General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, while COAS could not exercise power to promulgate the ordinance. He said the question was also to be decided as to whether the ordinance was singed by Pervez Musharraf as President or COAS.

Petitioner’s counsel Farooq H Naek and Adnan Karim opposed the plea of NAB’s counsel on non-maintainability on the ground of jurisdiction, submitting that the petitions of late PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari seeking withdrawal of attorney general’s letter to Swiss authorities for mutual assistance regarding corruption matter of the petitioners was also remanded back to SHC by SC with the observation that the high court could adjudicate such matter.

They said that the continuation of proceedings by the respondents before the London court, Investigating Magistrate Geneva and Accountability Courts in Rawalpindi, which stand terminated and withdrawn by virtue of NRO-2007, was mala fide and without jurisdiction and in violation of fundamental rights of the petitioner as envisaged by articles 2-A, 4,9,14,15 and 25 of the Constitution and NRO-2007.

They said that while adjourning the NRO case hearing, the SC observed that the ordinance shall hold the field and shall have its normal operation; and the authorities concerned shall proceed further expeditiously without being influenced by the pendency of the petition in the SC against NRO.

Deputy Attorney General Rizwan Siddiqui informed the court that the Attorney General of Pakistan would assist the court in this matter and requested the court to adjourn the matter till March 4 so that the controversy arising in the petition could be resolved.

SHC’s division bench comprising Justice Mrs. Qaiser Iqbal and Justice Syed Mehmood Alam Rizvi, adjourning the matter till March 4, repeated notice to Attorney General for appearance in the court.

The PPP co-chairman is facing civil proceedings before the High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division, Commercial Court London, regarding the sale of Rockwood Estate in Surrey (UK) as well as probe before Investigating Magistrate, Geneva, regarding criminal conspiracy to defraud Pakistan for his personal financial interest.

As many as seven references – Asset Reference, SGS Reference, ARY Gold Reference, BMW Reference, Cotecna Reference, Ursus Tractor Reference and Polo Ground Reference- are pending against the petitioner before the Accountability Courts in Rawalpindi.

The petitioner has prayed the court to declare that civil proceedings filed by the respondents against him in the London and Geneva courts as well as NAB references stand terminated and withdrawn by virtue of NRO-2007. He also sought injunction to direct the respondents to withdraw the above said criminal proceedings and references and restrain them from continuing with the proceedings.
Source: The News
Date:3/1/2008