IHC overturns NAB summon to Imran and wife over state gifts probe

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) overturned the call-up notices served by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Maneka in relation to foreign gifts they received between 2018 and 2022 when the former was serving as the prime minister.

The decision was made by a two-judge bench — comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Babar Sattar — after the couple challenged the notices in court, nominating the chairman of the dirty money watchdog and the additional director of its Rawalpindi wing as respondents.

The case centres on a government department known as Toshakhana — which during the Mughal era referred to the treasure houses kept by the subcontinent’s princely rulers to store and display gifts lavished on them.

Government officials must declare all gifts to the Cabinet Division, but are allowed to keep those below a certain value.

More expensive items must go to Toshakhana under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division, but in some cases, the recipient can buy them back at around 50 percent of their value — a discount Khan raised from 20 percent while in office.

The ruling coalition of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) parties has for months alleged Khan and his wife received lavish gifts worth millions during trips abroad. They included luxury watches, jewellery, designer handbags and perfumes.

Subsequently, the bureau, headed by a retired general, sought details from Khan regarding wristwatches and a mobile phone allegedly gifted to him.

It also sought information about jewellery sets given to Maneka which apparently include a Rolex watch, a gold and diamond locket presented by the ruler of Qatar, and two necklace sets gifted by the crown prince of Saudi Arabia on separate occasions.

Maneka filed a petition with the high court, seeking the nullification of the notice and a directive to prevent the agency from initiating any disciplinary action against her based on the same.

“The contents of the call-up notice unambiguously establish that the respo­n­dent [NAB] had, through their impu­gned notice, initiated a fishing exercise, rather than complying with the provision of law before issuing the same,” the petition said.

It also requested the court to declare the notice illegal.

Maneka made the request after failing to appear before the bureau in relation to the inquiry proceedings in the reference.

The verdict, co-authored by Justice Farooq and Justice Sattar, said: “In view of the above, the instant petitions are disposed of with observations that the impugned notices are not in accordance with the law and having no legal effect.”

The judgement also observed that NAB, however, “shall be at liberty” to issue fresh notices to the petitioners in line with its observations.


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