PESHAWAR: Extending its stay order in favour of former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser until Sept 13, the Peshawar High Court on Wednesday restrained the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from taking any adverse action against him in connection with an inquiry into the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s two bank accounts managed by him.
A bench consisting of Justice Abdul Shakoor and Justice Fazal Subhan told petitioner Qaiser that if he considered it to be necessary, he should file a rejoinder to the FIA’s response to his petition before the next hearing.
It was hearing a petition of Mr Qaiser, who requested it to set aside a notice by a FIA inquiry officer to appear before him in connection with the inquiry into two bank accounts managed by him from 2008 to 2013 as the PTI’s provincial head.
The petitioner pleaded that inquiry be declared illegal and based on mala fide.
Ex-NA speaker pleads court to declare FIA probe into PTI funding illegal
He also sought an interim relief from the court requesting it to suspend action on the inquiry and stop the respondents, including the relevant FIA officials, from issuing ‘adverse’ orders against him until the disposal of the case.
The FIA deputy director (commercial banking circle), Peshawar, had ordered that inquiry in the wake of the Aug 2 pronouncement of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that the PTI had received funds from prohibited sources.
Barrister Gohar Ali Khan appeared for the petitioner, whereas additional attorney general Aamir Javed represented the federal government.
Mr Javed said the petitioner, in the garb of the Aug 11 stay order issued by the court, had not been appearing before the inquiry officer despite the issuance of call up notices to him thrice.
He added that the court didn’t stop the FIA from holding the inquiry but the petitioner stayed away the probe.
Mr Gohar said the petition had challenged the FIA’s jurisdiction to hold that inquiry.
He said his client was asked to appear before the inquiry officer on Aug 11 but he couldn’t comply with it for being busy with the case in the high court.
The lawyer said on last hearing, the court stopped the FIA from acting against his client but two notices were issued to him afterwards.
He said he had sent two letters to inquiry officer Irfanullah seeking their recall until Aug 31, the day of hearing into the petition.
Mr Gohar said whenever the petitioner was asked to appear, he would do so.
The lawyer contended that the FIA’s deputy director (CBC), Peshawar and the inquiry officer had assumed jurisdiction to the order passed by the ECP on Aug 2, 2022, and had issued the notice asking his client to appear before the inquiry team on Aug 11 and answer the questions about those bank accounts.
He said the ECP had neither issued any direction nor had it forwarded the case to the federal government for inquiry against the petitioner.
Mr Gohar said the matter did not fall within the ambit of Articles 6(3) and 2(C)(iii) of the Political Parties Order, 2002.
He said the two bank accounts were of the PTI Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s and had nothing to do with the party’s foreign funding.
Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2022