Iqbal Z. Ahmed and five others were detained on Nov. 11 from within the courtroom of the Accountability Court in Hyderabad, where they had gone to attend a hearing of a completely false case against them.
The Sindh High Court (SHC) had earlier granted bails to all detainees, wherein it was prima facie observed that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had no case against them.
After the promising observations in the SHC judgment, applications were filed for the case to be dismissed/returned to NAB under the 2022 amendments. The case was thus returned to NAB.
After the return of the case all persons applied for return of surety bonds since no case was pending against them any longer and bail was no longer required. The SHC allowed the surety bonds to be withdrawn, leading to their subsequent return, and the recalling of the bail.
In September, the Supreme Court struck down some of the amendments in the NAB Ordinance, resulting in the false case (as other such cases) being returned to accountability courts by NAB despite all accused being private persons. The SC judgment preserves the rights granted to private persons under the amendments, removing NAB’s jurisdiction in the matter even after the amendments’ nullification.
On Nov. 11, the Accountability Court issued orders for detention despite all persons being present to face the absurdly false allegations against them. At the most, the court could have asked for new surety bonds to be submitted.
All detained persons have moved bail applications, and it is expected that bail shall be granted since detention has been ordered on the basis of a mere technicality. It is also expected that all accused will be acquitted from all the false allegations leveled against them in the near future.
It is very unfortunate that a leading businessman has been subjected to this treatment, and ordered to be detained on a mere technicality, in a case in which NAB has no jurisdiction. This does not augur well for the business community and the investment environment in the country.