— AC bins plea seeking A-class perks, allows certain facilities at suspects’ own expense
–NAB says it is an administrative matter, suspects should approach IG Prisons instead
ISLAMABAD: An accountability court (AC) on Tuesday rejected the applications of former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur, seeking A-class and extra facilities in prison during their judicial remand in fake accounts cases, but allowing them to avail certain facilities at their own expense.
Though it turned down the request for A-class in their cells, it has allowed them to upgrade their prison life with an air conditioner, refrigerator, television, radio, iPad, cooker, kettle, toaster, torch, and other additional facilities as well as keep an attendant.
At the outset of the hearing, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzafar Abbasi pleaded before the court that the petitions were not maintainable as the accused should approach Inspector General (IG) Prisons — a relevant forum for their requests.
He stated that the government had removed the rule of A and B classes in prisons replacing it with ‘better class’.
However, one had to request IG Prisons to get this facility, who will then refer the matter to the Home Department for a decision.
Abbasi informed the court that the prisoners of ‘better class’ were also provided facilities like common prisoners, but they could avail the extra facilities at their own expense. He prayed the court to dismiss the applications of the accused as this matter was not relevant to the court.
Earlier, Zardari’s counsel Sardar Latif Khosa contended before AC-I Judge Muhammad Bashir that since his client had been holding the president office and currently he was a member of parliament, the constitution allowed him extra facilities for a lifetime.
The former president was suffering from cardiac problems and this court had also allowed him to keep an attendant during NAB custody, he argued.
Farooq H. Naek, who was representing the former president, argued that this was not an administrative issue. He pleaded it was the authority of the court to grant his clients additional facilities in jail.
He stated, “We were not begging from administration but demanding our rights in accordance with the constitution.”
He said that Faryal Talpur had been holding different offices, elected MNA, two-time mayor, and currently a member of Sindh Assembly. He also prayed the court to grant a transit remand to Talpur so that she could attend the provincial assembly session.
The NAB prosecutor, however, objected on the request and pleaded that there was a different mechanism for transit remand and the accused couldn’t file an application to the court in this regard.
The speaker used to issue orders for the Home Department for this purpose which was enough for the authority concerned, he said and argued that this request was also non-maintainable. He said that the suspect had submitted no request to the Home Department in this regard.