The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday extended Punjab Opposition leader Hamza Shehbaz’s interim bail till April 17, Express News reported
Fearing arrest from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Hamza had petitioned the high court seeking pre-arrest bail in the money laundering and assets beyond income cases.
The court instructed Hamza to submit surety bonds worth Rs10 million.
Hamza’s petition for a pre-arrest bail was heard by a two-member bench comprising Justice Shehzad Ahmed Khan and Justice Waqas Rauf. The hearing of the case will take place today and a cause list has been issued as well.
The court inquired from the NAB prosecutors under which cases they wanted to arrest Hamza, to which the NAB prosecutor responded that three cases are under investigation against the PML-N leader.
“Want to arrest Hamza in assets beyond income case, while arrest warrants have not been issued in Saaf Paani and Ramzan Sugar Mills case,” the prosecutors stated.
Hamza’s counsel stated in his arguments before the court, that the petitioner is an opposition leader of the Punjab Assembly, while NAB tried to arrest Hamza without giving any notice.
“If NAB has any evidence then it should be presented, and we will respond,” the counsel added.
After hearing the arguments, the high court extended the Punjab assembly opposition leader’s interim bail.
Heavy security was in place for the hearing.
NAB prepares charge sheet against Hamza
During an important meeting of NAB officers and special advocates, matters pertaining to Hamza’s case in the LHC were reviewed.
According to NAB sources, the anti-graft watchdog had prepared a charge sheet against Hamza Shehbaz, which accuses the PML-N leader of money laundering.
“Millions of dollars were transferred to his accounts through fake accounts, increasing the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader’s assets by 200pc.”
NAB sources say it is important to arrest and investigate Hamza as they fear that he “may tamper with the records”.
LHC on Saturday stopped the anti-graft watchdog from arresting Punjab Assembly Opposition leader after granting a pre-arrest bail till today.
A NAB team on Friday raided the residence of PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif in the Model Town area of Lahore to arrest his son, Hamza, in connection with cases of alleged graft. However, the PML-N activists and private guards allegedly prevented the team from taking away Hamza.
On Saturday, while an accountability court allowed NAB to arrest Hamza on basis of the arrest warrants issued by the NAB chairman, Hamza’s counsels, including Amjad Pervaiz, appeared before the LHC Chief Justice Sardar Muhammad Shamim Khan in his chamber.
Hamza’s legal team contended that the petitioner’s writ petition seeking interim pre-arrest bail in inquiry No 1(9) HQ/2011/IW-II/NAB-L of October 23, 2018, and investigation No 1(61) HQ/974/NAB-L of April 4, 2019, has already been pending before an LHC division bench which will hear it on April 8.
Advocate Amjad Pervaiz argued that another writ petition of the petitioner [Hamza] seeking pre-arrest bail was also filed on November 20, 2018 before a division bench.
“The bench had clearly directed NAB authorities that if subsequently arrest of the petitioner is required, he [petitioner] shall be given 10-day notice for the said purpose but NAB violated this order.”
He said NAB officials did not serve any notice to Hamza and cordoned off his house which is against the norms of the said order.
He requested the court that an interim protective bail be granted to the petitioner till April 8 in order to enable him to approach the concerned division bench.
The CJ noted that if the case was a division bench’s matter how a single bench could entertain the petition. The counsel referred to a case law reported as “Imran Raza Khan, advocate versus SSP, Lahore and two others” contending that similar matter was entertained by the CJ at his residence.
The petitioner in his bail petition sought indulgence of the court for safeguarding his right to life, liberty and honour contending that issuance of warrant of arrest by NAB is not only violative of the statutory provisions but also the law since settled that “an arrest is not desirable even in most heinous offences so long as an accused cooperates during investigation”.
The PML-N leader contended that NAB embarked upon “a roving, fishing and sniffing expedition” to implicate him and his family in false criminal cases – related to Saaf Paani Company; construction of Sullage Carrier and alleged assets beyond means.
In the plea, he nominated NAB through its chairman, director general and an assistant director.
He said according to media reports, the LHC’s order had since been challenged in the country’s top court. However, the petitioner had not yet received any notice for hearing or otherwise and the above said order of the LHC is still intact.
Hamza requested the court that “the writ petition may kindly be accepted and the petitioner may kindly be admitted to bail before arrest in inquiry No 1(9) HQ/2011/IW-II/NAB-L of October 23, 2018 and investigation No 1 (61) HQ/974/NAB-L of April 4, 2019 in the interest of justice.”