Shehbaz's pre-arrest bail hearing adjourned till Sep 24

Court seeks further arguments; Sharif's counsel raises questions on NAB's 'frivolous' cases


Rana Yasif September 22, 2020
Shehbaz Sharif. PHOTO: EXPRESS

LAHORE:

The Lahore High Court (LHC) adjourned on Tuesday pre-arrest bail proceedings of opposition leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif in assets beyond means and money laundering cases till September 24 for further arguments.

The division bench hearing the case was headed by Justice Sardar Ahmed Naeem.

During the proceedings, Shehbaz’s counsel, Amjad Pervez, raised questions on the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) intentions, which according to him were malafide. He said NAB was "trapping his client in false and frivolous cases".

He argued that Article 10-A of the constitution protects the basic rights of citizens, but in Shehbaz Sharif’s case the said article was violated. He added that his client was not being handed over a copy of the Financial Monitoring Units (FMU)’s report.

“It is astonishing enough that the FMU’s report was not made part of the case,” the counsel observed. “NAB is claiming that suspicious transactions were made in the assets beyond means case, but nothing was made part of the case record, neither does NAB have any substantial evidence to establish its case,” he argued.

Pervez questioned how a person could be tried relying on documents that were not made part of the case record.

The counsel further argued that why did NAB not accuse any bank officer through whom those transactions were made on behalf of his client. It is interesting that no banks complained about the suspicious transactions, he further observed.

Advocate Pervez argued that “it was not difficult to smell NAB's malafide intentions in such cases”. He requested the court to examine whether or not the inquiries initiated against Shehbaz Sharif were in accordance with the law.

He argued that NAB summoned his client in the Saaf Paani case, but arrested him in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case.

Moreover, he argued that the LHC had granted him bails in said cases, but NAB had now initiated a fourth case against Shehbaz on an application of a “patriot”.

Pervez stated that it was surprising that neither the complainant's name, nor his address or signatures were available on the application submitted before NAB. "If we win this case, against whom will we then file a case for loss of our precious time, or damage to our image amongst people,” the lawyer further stated.

How can an increase in assets over a period of time be declared an offence, the lawyer asked. "What law terms an increase in assets as a betrayal," Pervez said.

On a point raised by Shehbaz's counsel, NAB prosecutor Syed Faisal Raza Bukhari requested Pervez to confine his arguments on the relevant case rather than highlighting a PTI-led minister’s press conferences.

Shehbaz Sharif’s bail

Shehbaz Sharif has contended in his pre-arrest bail petition that the power of arrest is permissive and not obligatory and an arrest is not desirable even in most heinous offences so long as the accused cooperates.

He maintained that he started his business in 1972 and played a vital role in benefitting the sectors of agriculture, sugar and textile industry.

Shehbaz further maintains in his petition that he stepped into politics in 1988 'for the betterment of the people'. But NAB was subjecting him to political victimisation.

Inquiries against the PML-N president were initiated under the PTI-led government. He was arrested in 2018 in the assets beyond means case by NAB, but the latter failed to provide any substantial evidence, the petition further states.

It contends that NAB cannot apply its powers under the Anti-money Laundering Act during the inquiry. The PML-N president has expressed apprehension over being arrested by the anti-graft watchdog on the basis of which he has requested being granted bail.

NAB’s reply

In previous proceedings, NAB had submitted its reply opposing Shehbaz Sharif's pre-arrest bail request. The anti-corruption authority maintained in its reply that there was sufficient incriminating material available on record that connects Shehbaz with the commission of corruption offences and corrupt practices.

It denies Shehbaz’s plea in the pre-arrest bail in assets beyond means and money laundering cases, terming his pre-arrest bail liable to be dismissed.

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