Supreme Court seeks NAB reply over delay in Hamza Shehbaz case hearing

Says accountability courts should treat all accused equally; adjourns hearing for two weeks


Our Correspondent January 09, 2021
PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The Supreme Court has sought a report from the accountability court over delay in hearing the case regarding alleged money laundering and assets beyond means against Hamza Shehbaz, the opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly.

A three-member bench, comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, heard the bail plea filed by Hamza through his counsels.

During the course of the proceedings, Justice Mushir Alam sought a report regarding the procedure for speedy disposal of cases pending before Accountability Court-II Lahore.

Justice Alam remarked that the court wanted the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to treat all the accused equally, adding that the case scheduled for hearing in the accountability court should be heard on a daily basis.

He observed that the facts that had emerged in this (Hamza Shehbaz’s) case were embarrassing. The court did not want to make any observations about the case at the trial level, he added.

The NAB prosecutor general said that the bureau had submitted details of cases pending in Accountability Court-II Lahore.

Justice Yahya Afridi said that there were 46 cases pending in the AC-II. “Hamza Shehbaz's case number is 44 in the accountability court.”

He said that the Supreme Court had ordered hearing of NAB cases on a daily basis. “The NAB prosecutor should inform the court as to when the trial of Hamza’s case would be completed.”

Advocate Azam Nazeer Tarar, counsel for Hamza, said that many cases were pending in the accountability courts. “My client is in jail for the last 19 months.”

Advocate Amjad Pervez, another counsel for Hamza, said that his client's case was the only case which was heard twice a week.

The NAB prosecutor said that the NAB courts recorded the statements of five to 10 witnesses on a daily basis.

Justice Afridi said that it was also not appropriate to keep the accused in jail till the trial was over. “It is also not good to leave old cases and start new ones first.”

He asked the NAB prosecutor to approach the court for cancellation of bail if the accused did not appear.

The prosecutor said that 30 new accountability courts were being set up across the country. The establishment of new courts would divide the burden of cases, he added.

Later, the court sought details from the accountability court and adjourned the hearing for two weeks.

(With input from APP)

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