KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) sought on Tuesday arguments from a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) special prosecutor on a bail petition of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Sharjeel Inam Memon in Rs5 billion corruption cases.
A two-judge bench, headed by SHC Chief Justice (CJ) Ahmed Ali M Sheikh, fixed the matter for February 15.
Earlier, Barrister Latif Khosa, Memon’s lawyer, argued that there was no harm in awarding contracts of government advertisements to the electronic and print media. He informed the court that the Punjab government also published full-page advertisements in newspapers.
Barrister Khosa mentioned that the federal government awarded contracts for government advertisements like Memon did while he served as the provincial information minister.
The lawyer maintained that there was no dispute over the rates of advertisements of print and electronic media as both mediums had different rates. The television channels charged per minute rates for airing advertisements, he added.
Barrister Khosa insisted that money was not embezzled in the award of such contracts by the petitioner, as market rates were fixed in accordance with the provisions of the Sindh Public Procurement Regulatory Authority law.
The bench was informed that NAB had registered a complaint regarding corruption on June 6, 2013 just five days after Memon assumed the charge of the information ministry on May 31. Barrister Khosa claimed that none of the media houses’ employees had been nominated by NAB in the reference because the bureau was scared of the media.
The lawyer continued to argue that the petitioner being the minister was not responsible for any kickbacks between the advertising agencies and media houses. He, however, maintained that the media houses had duly verified the invoices.
Barrister Khosa pleaded that none of the co-accused, who had entered plea bargain with NAB and voluntarily returned the money, had blamed Memon for embezzlement.
NAB Prosecutor Altaf Khan informed the bench that Memon was arrested on October 23, 2017, following revocation of his pre-arrest bail by the SHC. The prosecutor said the accused was shifted from the prison to a hospital on the orders of the provincial home department.
Barrister Khosa requested the court to order to shift the PPP leader to a hospital for treatment, as the hospital inside the prison lacked required medical treatment facilities.
The lawyer said reports of the medical boards, which had examined Memon in London, Dubai and Pakistan, were submitted to the court. He maintained that the petitioner had travelled abroad for treatment and returned to the country to face the case, therefore, there was no apprehension that he would abscond, as another PPP leader Dr Asim Hussain, too, had returned to the country after the grant of bail.
Chiding the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz leadership, Barrister Khosa said the PPP leaders will not flee the country like former finance minister Ishaq Dar.
The SHC CJ remarked that the court would pass an order for Memon’s treatment by the best surgeon at Civil hospital, to which, Khosa argued that the petitioner’s treatment was not possible in the custody of the police.
The NAB prosecutor said doctors had suggested that Sharjeel Memon be shifted to a private hospital for medical treatment. However, he contended that the petitioner was already admitted to a hospital and, therefore, he did not need grant of bail.
After Barrister Khosa concluded arguments, the bench fixed the matter for February 15 to hear arguments from the lawyers representing the co-accused, and the NAB prosecutor.