SC office objects to Zardari cases transfer plea

The registrar office of the apex court has raised objections to an application of former president Asif Ali Zadari to transfer corruption cases filed against him in accountability courts of Islamabad to similar courts in Karachi, where Zardari has a permanent residence.

The registrar office has returned the application by raising objections.

According to the SC office, the application is not maintainable as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) –the prosecution in the case – filed the reference in view of an order of the Supreme Court.

It said the top court has already rejected Zardari’s previous application to transfer the cases to Karachi courts. It said the Supreme Court rules forbid refilling a review application.

PPP Co-chairman Zardari on November 3 approached the Supreme Court, requesting it to transfer the graft cases filed against him in accountability courts of Islamabad to Karachi in view of his illness.

Zardari had moved the application through his counsel Farooq H Naek.

The application said that throughout the recent history, the former president had been made to suffer by implicating him in false, fabricated and politically motivated cases.

“The petitioner has time and again been made the target of political vendetta and vengeance. He has seen the rigours of jail numerous times in false and politically motivated cases for a cumulative period of about eleven years.”

It said Zardari endured the ordeal with faith in independence of the judiciary and the justice system. “It is pertinent to mention here that he was acquitted in all the fabricated and concocted cases [earlier].”

The application stated that Zardari was suffering from various ailments and had been seriously ill.

“He is about 65 years of age and is a chronic patient suffering from various ailments including but not limited to cardiovascular disease insofar as he has three stents in his heart, he also suffers from ischemic heart disease, high blood pressure, sensory peripheral and autonomic neuropathy. He is hypoglycemic (having unstable low blood sugar) and has diabetes, and Holter Monitor is attached in his arm.

“Moreover, the petitioner also has lumber and cervical spondylosis (spine disease). The applicant further suffers from arthritis and his platelet count is not stable.

“This is substantiated from certificates and report of the medical board formed by the Islamabad High Court. Despite the fact that all the accused persons, witnesses and documents are from Karachi and the subject matter of the said reference is related to Sindh province,” said the application.

It stated that there was evidence of substantial prejudice to the applicant as well as witnesses if the references were not transferred.

The application said Karachi would not be a handicap for the state or NAB and would rather mitigate the serious difficulties of the applicant to have a fair and impartial trial in a more congenial atmosphere.

The PPP co-chairperson is facing multiple corruption cases that stemmed from a mega money laundering scandal, which came to the fore in 2018.

Zardi, his sister Faryal Talpur and several of their business associates are being tried as part of a 2015 case regarding fake accounts and fictitious transactions —which were initially found to have amounted to Rs35 billion – conducted through 29 “benami” accounts.

The SC while hearing a suo motu case related to fake accounts had ordered the authorities to conduct trial of the accused persons in Islamabad. Even the court had rejected review petitions against its order.

This article originally appeared on The Express Tribune