The Sindh High Court dismissed all applications seeking the reversal of a banking court’s orders to move the fake accounts case investigation from Karachi to Rawalpindi.
Former president Asif Ali Zardari, Faryal Talpur, Abdul Gani Majeed, Anwar Majeed and Hussain Lowai had all appealed against the banking court’s ruling in the SHC.
The FIA had named Zardari, Talpur, Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed, his sons and over 10 others as suspects in an interim charge sheet filed in the banking court in August last year for alleged money laundering to the tune of over Rs4 billion after 29 ‘fake’ bank accounts were found opened in three banks — Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and United Bank Ltd.
On March 15, 2019, a banking court had granted the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) its request to transfer the fake bank accounts case to the accountability court of Rawalpindi for trial.
The orders had been given after the Supreme Court — which had taken suo motu notice of the case and constituted a JIT to probe the matter — referred the matter to NAB to launch its probe independently and complete it within two months.
In today’s hearing, the defence submitted their reply to NAB’s reply submitted in the last hearing of the case.
Soon after that, the defending lawyer, Farooq H. Naek, gave his concluding arguments and reiterated all the points had had made during previous hearings of the case.
“The Supreme Court had only given orders for further investigation in the case,” Naek insisted, arguing there was no reason to shift the case too.
To this, the court asked that if the orders had not directly been given by the the Supreme Court, did the NAB chairman not have the power to request a case to be moved from one court to the other.
However, the defending lawyer insisted that a NAB court does not have the power to hear the case. He further added that the NAB chairman should have waited for a final challan to be submitted in court (before handing in the application to move the case).
The lawyer for Hussain Lawai and Taha Raza, Shoukat Hayat, in his concluding arguments said that “this was the first case in history to have been shifted from one province to another”.
“A trial court does not hold the power to transfer a case from one province to another,” he said, adding that the NAB chairman also does not hold this right.
The lawyer for Anwar Majeed and Abdul Ghani Majeed, Barrister Jamshed Malik, said that had the Supreme Court given clear orders for the case’s transfer, the NAB chairman would not have had to write to the court requesting it.
“The investigation officer in the case would simply have come in and said that the top court has ordered for the case to be transferred,” he added.
“The banking court overstepped its powers when it transferred the case,” Malik insisted.
However, the court was not swayed, and once the defence’s arguments concluded, the court rejected all appeals, thereby green-lighting the transfer of the case from Karachi to Rawalpindi’s accountability court.