LAHORE   -   A special court on Friday deferred the indictment of opposition leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, his son Hamza Shehbaz and others in money laundering and sugar scam.

Special Judge Central Ejaz Hussain Awan conducted the case proceedings, wherein Hamza Shehbaz and other accused appeared and got their attendance marked.

The counsel for Shehbaz Sharif submitted an exemption application and stated that his client was busy in Islamabad in connection with the National Assembly session. He pleaded with the court to exempt Shehbaz Sharif from personal appearance for one-day.

At this stage, a counsel for another accused, Usman, advanced his arguments in connection with jurisdiction of the court. He submitted that the court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter. He submitted that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) did not file its reply to the application regarding the court jurisdiction; rather, it filed the contempt plea. The counsel submitted that he wanted to file a reply in this matter. He submitted that the statements of the bankers had been received now, but without reading them, no further progress was possible. He submitted that the court should look into the available record and then decide whether the matter falls in its jurisdiction.

To which, the court questioned why the petitioner accepted its jurisdiction before the banking court. The counsel submitted that the banking court accepted the objection raised by the FIA.

At this, the court directed the counsel to advance his further arguments on the next date of hearing. The court also accepted the exemption application of Shehbaz Sharif and extended the interim bail of Shehbaz and Hamza till April 4. The court summoned all the accused for indictment on the next date of hearing.

The court had fixed the previous two hearings for the indictment, but it could not take place due to different reasons. The case had been transferred from the special court for banking offences to the special court (Central-I) after the question of the courts’ jurisdiction was decided on Jan 14. The FIA had filed challan against Shehbaz Sharif, Hamza Shehbaz and others in money laundering and sugar scam.

The FIA nominated Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz as main accused, besides benamidars and others. Shehbaz Sharif and his sons – Hamza and Suleman – were booked by the FIA in November 2020 under sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 34 and 109 of PPC and 5(2) and 5(3) of Prevention of Corruption Act and r/w 3/4 of Anti Money Laundering Act. Suleman is absconding and residing in the UK.