LHC extends Hamza Shahbaz's interim bail till May 22

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday extended the interim bail of the Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz till May 22 in Ramzan Sugar Mills, Saaf Pani Company and assets beyond known sources of income cases.

A two-member bench of the LHC, headed by Justice Baqir Ali Najfi, presided over the hearing.

The court approved a petition of Hamza Shehbaz seeking bail in assets beyond income, Ramazan Sugar Mills and Saaf Pani accountability cases against him.

The bench ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to submit the reasons for the arrest of Hamza Shehbaz.

The NAB officials informed the bench that some documents have been given on the request of Hamza Shehbaz adding that all papers could not be handed over under the law. “The bureau not providing the permission under which the inquiry against my client initiated,” the counsel of Hamza informed the bench.

The documents regarding the financial monitoring unit also not being provided, the lawyer further said.

Hamza Shehbaz along with his lawyers appeared in the hearing amid tight security arrangements in the high court.

However, in today’s hearing, supporters of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) could not reach the court to express their support for Hamza due to the blast near Data Darbar and uncertain security situation in the city.

Punjab home department had formulated a foolproof security measures for the hearing.

A heavy contingent of police and security personnel was deployed at the surroundings of the court, accountability court and at the Mall Road to avoid any untoward incident.

In an earlier hearing the court ordered NAB prosecutor to produce documents in the cases. The bench asked NAB prosecutor to inform the court regarding availability of documents in the references.

Shehbaz’s counsel Salman Butt apprised LHC judge that the documents which were considered as the part of the reference were not attached in assets beyond income case. He added that the case cannot be proceeded without completion of the documents.

NAB prosecutor argued that the anti-corruption watchdog will have to investigate into offshore companies and foreign transactions of Hamza Shehbaz. The investigators were tracing out persons and other sources which were used to transact money from foreign country, the official said.

“The court had directed to inform Hamza Shehbaz, 10 days prior to his arrest while the statement is still due to be recorded regarding the documents.”

Butt said, “The petitioner was not apprised for reasons behind his arrest in the assets’ case and related documents should be provided to him which were used to initiate inquiry against his client.”

“How can we challenge the case in a court if we are not being given documents. The material, which is being used against an accused, cannot be hidden from the person,” said Butt.

“If it is a case of money laundering, than NAB is not authorised to arrest his client without seeking permission from magistrate, except holding an inquiry. Both regulations cannot be merged if money laundering case will have to proceed in sessions court,” he added.

NAB prosecutor said that complaints were emerged against Shehbaz Sharif, Hamza Shehbaz and Salman Shehbaz. Financial Monitoring Unit has also spotted suspicious transactions but its report is secret which cannot be provided.

The court inquired NAB prosecutor whether contents of the report be included as part of the case. To this, the official answered that the facts will be emerged after investigation.

LHC judge remarked that the institution should make it clear whether the report will be used as evidence in the case or not. The official affirmed that the probe will be conducted on basis of the report.

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