ISLAMABAD: Supreme court has overruled its registrar office’s objections to an application of former president Asif Ali Zadari to transfer corruption cases filed against him in accountability courts of Islamabad to similar courts in Karachi, where Zardari has a permanent residence.
In its two pages order, a three-judge bench led by Justice Umar Ata Bandial noted that the points raised by Zardari’s counsel Farooq H Naek in his application require “judicial application of mind”. “Therefore, the objections raised by the registrar ought to be decided by the court. Accordingly, the said objections are overruled. “Let the CMAs [civil miscellaneous appeals] be numbered and fixed in the court after winter vacations. These miscellaneous appeals are accordingly allowed,” said the order authored by Justice Bandial. The hearing on the registrar office’s objections was conducted on December 15. However, the matter is yet to be placed before a bench for regular hearing.
The order said it appeared that the remedy provided in Section 16 A © of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 might not be available to Zardari because of an unequivocal direction in paragraph No 37 (vi) of the SC’s January 7, 2019 order about filing of the references in Islamabad. Naek in his arguments before the bench had said Section 16 A © is an independent right of an accused who may request the SC to transfer pending reference from an accountability court of one province to an accountability court of another province. “The SC’s January 7, 2019 judgment did not bar the applicant to avail the said statutory right,” he said. Political analysts believe that entertaining Zardari’s plea regarding transfer of hiscases is a significant development in the prevailing political scenario.
However, Zardari, they say, might have got more political advantage, if his trial continued in Punjab or Islamabad. Earlier, lawyers had expressed serious reservations over the apex court’s January7, 2019 direction to transfer corruption cases against Zardari from Karachi to Islamabad. The SC Registrar office in its objection said the application is not maintainable as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) –the prosecution in the cases – filed thereferences in view of an order of the Supreme Court.
It said the top court has already rejected Zardari’s previous application to transfer the cases to Karachi courts. It said the Supreme Court rules forbid refilling a review application.PPP Co-chairman Zardari on November 3, 2020 approached the Supreme Court, requesting it to transfer the graft cases filed against him in accountability courts of Islamabad to Karachi in view of his illness. The application said throughout the recent history, the former president had been made to suffer through false, fabricated and politically motivated cases .“The petitioner has time and again been made the target of political vendetta and vengeance. He has seen the rigours of jail numerous times in false and politically motivated cases for a cumulative period of about eleven years.” It said Zardari endured the ordeal with faith in independence of the judiciary and the justice system. “It is pertinent to mention here that he was acquitted in all the fabricated and concocted cases [earlier], “ the application said.