LHC grants Hamza interim bail until 17th

LAHORE - A division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday barred the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from arresting Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hamza Shehbaz by granting him interim bail until April 17 in an in assets-beyond-means case.

A bench consisting of Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan and Justice Mirza Viqas Rauf granted interim bail to Hamza, who is also opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly. The bench granted Hamza interim bail against surety bonds of Rs10 million. The court passed the orders while hearing a pre-arrest bail petition filed by Hamza.

Earlier, Hamza appeared before the court and the NAB prosecution team along with his counsel. The NAB team told the court that there were three cases against the petitioner — assets beyond means, Saaf Pani and Ramzan Sugar Mills. The team informed the court that NAB wanted to arrest the PML-N leader only in the assets-beyond-means case and no arrest warrants had so far been issued in other two cases.

Representing the PML-N leader, lawyer Azam Nazir Tarar said his client approached the LHC on November 1, 2018 for bail, but his petition was disposed of after NAB told the court that it did not want to arrest him. He said the bench told NAB to inform the petitioner at least 10 days before his arrest in future so that he could approach the appropriate forum for remedy.

Rs10m surety bonds deposited to ensure PML-N leader’s freedom

He told the court that NAB violated the court orders and raided his client’s house to arrest him, but PML-N workers foiled the bid to arrest Hamza. He said all allegations against his client were based on mala fide therefore the court should grant him bail.

On the other side, a NAB prosecutor argued that the bureau was not bound to inform the petitioner in advance, as per the Supreme Court judgement. He said that NAB took all steps in accordance with the law before raiding Hamza’s house for his arrest. He said that NAB had detected an illegal transaction of Rs3 billion to Hamza’s account. If the accused is granted bail, he said, he feared that he would threaten the witnesses and tamper with the record. Later, NAB officials said the accused may not be granted bail.

After hearing arguments from both parties, the bench granted interim bail to Hamza till April 17 and sought reply and para-wise comments from NAB.

On this occasion, strict security arrangements were made as PML-N workers were present outside the court in large numbers to show solidarity with Hamza.

Last Saturday, LHC Chief Justice Sardar Muhammad Shamim Khan had granted two-day protective bail to Hamza to enable him to approach the proper forum for hearing of his bail petition. He had to approach the court after NAB conducted raid for his arrest.

A legal team representing Hamza filed a civil miscellaneous application in the LHC after the NAB team raided his residence in Model Town.

In the application, the team argued that a petition filed by Hamza for pre-arrest bail had already been fixed for hearing before the two-judge bench of the LHC. The counsels had contended that NAB was bent on apprehending the petitioner in violation of the court order. They told the court that NAB wanted to arrest the petitioner without giving him 10-day time as per law. After hearing arguments, the LHC chief justice granted protective bail to Hamza till April 8 so that he could approach the division bench.


The writer is member of staff and can be reached at shazadma@gmail.com

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