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ISLAMABAD: An accountability court here on Thursday approved a plea filed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, seeking an exemption from personal appearance before the court in a graft reference on the medical grounds.
Judge Muhammad Bashir announced the decision on the plea, granting the finance minister a temporary exemption from personal appearance before the court till the next hearing on Nov 8.
At the outset of court proceedings today, Dar’s lawyer Ayesha Hamid filed an application on behalf of her client to seek an exemption from personal appearance. The plea was submitted in absence of Dar’s lead counsel Khawaja Harris.
She informed the court that her client was currently out of country, where he would undergo an angiography test later today.
Opposing the plea, NAB’s deputy prosecutor asserted that the finance minister was not afflicted with any kind of illness and deliberately evading the graft proceedings against him.
The prosecutor said that medical tests for any kind of ailment were also possible in the country, hence the finance minister was making unwarranted excuses to skip the court proceedings.
Subsequently, the prosecutor also filed an application requesting the court to issue ‘non-bailable’ arrest warrants for the finance minister.
However, the court rejected the NAB’s application and adjourned the hearing till Nov 8.
At the last hearing on Oct 30, the Dar’s lead counsel Khawaja Harris had also pleaded the court for an exemption from personal appearance after apprising the court that his client had gone to London for a medical check-up after experiencing acute chest pain.
The judge then rejected the application and issued bailable arrest warrants against Ishaq Dar.
Earlier, the court had recorded the statements of two NAB witnesses, including Masood ul Ghani of Habib Bank and Abdul Rehman Gondal of Allied Bank, who were also cross-examined by Dar’s counsel.
The two witnesses had presented in court the finance minister’s account opening forms, covering letters, signature specimen cards, statements of accounts and others details.
The prosecution team of NAB had earlier submitted a list of 28 witnesses against Dar, out of which five witnesses have so far recorded their statements.
On Oct 23, the accountability court had issued notice to Ishaq Dar to submit response on an application seeking court’s approval for NAB chairman’s order of Oct 18 freezing the assets of Dar and family.
According to the NAB reference, the accused had acquired assets and pecuniary interests/ resources in his name or in the name of his dependents of an approximate amount of Rs831.678 million as per the investigation conducted so far.
The assets are disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for.