ISLAMABAD: The government will move the Supreme Court against the Lahore High Court’s decision to grant bail to PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah, Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) and Narcotics Control Shehryar Afridi said on Wednesday.
Afridi’s statement came a day after the former Punjab law minister was granted bail by the court in a narcotics possession case on two surety bonds worth Rs1 million each.
The minister said the court had granted bail to Sanaullah on a verbal order and written verdict was yet to be issued.
“We will review the written order and then present our stance before the court,” he added.
Later while addressing a news conference, minister tried to dispel the impression that the case against the PML-N leader was politically motivated.
He claimed that neither he nor Prime Minister Imran Khan had anything to do with Sanaullah’s arrest.
“We did not interfere in the legal proceedings [against Sanaullah]. There is no political victimisation,” he said.
“He [Sanaullah] was arrested by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) which is a professional unit and we never interfered in the matter.”
Afridi emphasised that Sanaullah was still an accused and had not been exonerated of the charges of narcotics possession.
“He [Sanaullah] has been granted bail by the court, not acquitted. Some segments of the media are creating the impression that he has been acquitted and the case is weak,” he maintained.
“All evidence was presented before the court within 17 days of his arrest. I have seen the evidence with my own eyes.”
The minister expressed his frustration over the media repeatedly asking him about the video of the arrest.
“In the first press conference along with the ANF [Anti-Narcotics Force] DG, I had mentioned the footage of the incident. That doesn’t mean that there a video of Rana Sanaullah posing for it. There’s a difference between footage and a video,” he said.
“We monitored his [Sanaullah] movement for three weeks,” he added.
LHC grants bail to Rana Sanaullah in narcotics case
Afridi said there had been "no interference" by the government in the case and that neither he nor PM Imran Khan had any personal grudges against any politician.
"He [Sanaullah] was arrested by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) which is a professional unit and we never interfered in the matter.
"We accept the court’s decision but there can be no doubt that delaying tactics were used in the case. I was even threatened when a case was filed against him [Sanaullah]. All evidence including video footage has been provided to the court," said the minister.
He stressed that Sanaullah was still an accused and had not been exonerated of charges of narcotics possession.
"This seems to be a season of granting bail," said Afridi, referring to the release on bail of several high-profile political personalities over the past few weeks.
ANF arrests Rana Sanaullah for carrying drugs
The minister urged journalists to refrain from "conducting a media trial" and vowed no compromise in the government's "fight against mafias".
Rana Sanaullah, who is the president of the PML-N's Punjab chapter, was arrested by the ANF in July this year for allegedly possessing a sizeable quantity of narcotics.
He has consistently denied the charge and denounced the case against him as being "fabricated" and "politically motivated".
Sanaullah, through his petition, pleaded the court for grant of post-arrest bail, alleging that he was implicated in a fake case. He submitted that the FIR of the incident was registered under 9-C, 15 and 17 of the Control of Narcotics Substances Act with a delay, which made it dubious.
An anti-narcotics special court had twice rejected bail petition filed by the PML-N leader earlier.
In August, District and Sessions Judge Masood Arshad was forced to stop the hearing of case in the middle of the proceedings much to the surprise of everyone present in the court.
The judge said he received a WhatsAap message that he had been transferred to the Lahore High Court even though the court had not issued any notification of the judge’s repatriation at that time.
Talking to the media after the court granted bail to Sanaullah, the ANF DG said Sanaullah’s lawyers were using delaying tactics by boycotting the hearings, saying until the accused is indicted, a challan could not be submitted to the court.
“The ANF challan is complete. As soon as the accused is indicted, the challan will be submitted to court,” he added.
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