IHC reserves verdict on NAB plea challenging Captain Safdar’s bail

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday reserved its verdict on a petition filed by the graft buster challenging an accountability court’s order of releasing Captain (retd) Mohammad Safdar on bail following his arrest in October.
After almost a month, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has approached the IHC, requesting it to set aside the accountability court’s order of October 9 by declaring it ‘illegal’ and consequently, Safdar be remanded to jail custody.
During the hearing, NAB prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi said the investigation officer had been directed by a trial court to execute non-bailable warrants against Safdar, arguing that the warrants should not be treated as summons.
He said the Octtober 9 judgement, which allowed the release of Captain Safdar from custody on submission of Rs5 million surety bond was “absolutely not applicable”, pointing out the only way to move forwards after an arrest was to be released on bail not bonds. He argued that the trial court had no powers to grant bail.
The two-member bench, comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Aamir Farooq, asked the NAB prosecutor whether the accountability bureau always sought permission from the court before arresting suspects.
Abbasi clarified that he was not asking for physical custody but seeking judicial remand of the accused. He also said NAB had made the same request before the trial court. The anti-corruption watchdog’s petition to the IHC highlights that Safdar did not appear before the court on various hearing, avoided the process of law and tried to hamper the proceeding which are to be concluded within a period of six months.
Justice Kayani observed that the court only has to ensure presence of the suspect for hearing, keeping the accused behind bars is investigating agency’s domain. He said the accountability watchdog had authority to arrest suspects at any given stage during investigations just as a suspect had the right to apply for pre-arrest bail if he is apprehensive, reminding the prosecutor that it was NAB’s job to create such a scenario.
The counsel for Cap (retd) Safdar, Amjad Pervez said the defense counsel had countered arguments presented by NAB relying upon the same judgement (SCMR 2014) used by their prosecutor. He said if the accused appears or is brought before the court, he can execute bonds under Section 19 of the Criminal Procedure Code. He added that the purpose of issuing non-bailable warrants is to ensure that the accused attends trial hearings. “The purpose is to appear to answer the charge”.
Justice Kiyani remarked that it was evident by now bail was not required for a suspect who appears or is brought before the court, stands trial and continues the cycle. “It is not a punishment.”
When Amjad told court he wanted to make more submissions in this, Justice Kiyani remarked that there was no need as the court had enough substance to come to a decision in this regard.
Addressing NAB prosecutor, the bench said if the accountability watchdog required custody it should ask the concerned authorities to issue orders.

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