Maryam granted pre-arrest bail ahead of NAB March 26 hearing

LHC grants PML-N leader bail till April 12; counsel argues NAB's impression not good


Rana Yasif March 24, 2021
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE:

The Lahore High Court (LHC) has granted pre-arrest bail to PML-N de facto chief Maryam Nawaz, who is summoned by the top graft buster – the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) – on March 26 for interrogation with regard to a land allotment case.

The PML-N on Wednesday requested LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan to place Maryam’s pre-arrest bail application for immediate hearing before a bench.

Azam Nazir Tarar, counsel for Maryam, told the court that NAB could arrest the PML-N leader. He said in the recent past NAB had often summoned people in connection with one case but arrested them upon arrival at NAB building on some other charges.

The CJ directed the concerned deputy registrar to immediately place the case for hearing before a bench. He also ordered deputy superintendent police (DSP) security to escort Maryam and other PML-N leaders to the concerned courtroom.

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When the hearing started, Tarar argued that Maryam Nawaz was implicated in the case with mala fide intention as the matter had already been taken by a joint investigation team (JIT) in another NAB reference of 2017.

He said the petitioner had already been remanded in custody for 48 days in connection with the reference and the impugned call-up notice had been issued just to humiliate her. “The petitioner apprehends imminent arrest at the hands of NAB [during interrogation],” he said.

Tarar said the superior courts have time and again given guidelines to NAB with regard to summoning an accused but the same have not been complied with and the bureau is persisting with an imperious and pernicious “thana mentality” of summoning a person without any plausible reason.

He argued that the proceedings against the petitioner are prompted by mala fide intention, ulterior motive and considerations extraneous to law.

“Indeed, registration of a series of cases and repeated arrests of the petitioner at behest of the government are classic examples of misuse of the process to muffle the voice of the petitioner as the leader of an opposition party,” he said.

The division bench headed by Justice Sarfraz Dogar, admitting ad-interim pre-arrest bail of Maryam Nawaz till April 12, also sought reply from NAB by the same date. The bench ordered Maryam to furnish bail bonds of Rs1m with one surety in the like amount to the satisfaction of the LHC deputy registrar.

The bench further ordered the PML-N leader to join NAB investigation as and when required by the investigation officer and appear before this court on each and every date of hearing.

As Maryam Nawaz obtained bail orders, NAB also knocked the doors of the LHC, requesting the court to direct the PML-N leader not to come to the NAB office with political workers and other leaders.

NAB contended that the respondent, Maryam Nawaz, had not been cooperating with the anti-graft body since she was granted post-arrest bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills Case.

"NAB issued notices to Maryam in the Jatti Umra land case and later issued a call-up notice summoning her by March 26 but respondent Maryam is in no mood to cooperate with the anti-graft body on this investigation and is publicly ridiculing the NAB authorities," the petition added.

"It seems the respondent has planned to come to the NAB office with a view to sabotage the investigation process and evade any hearing that may take place before the NAB authorities.

NAB requested the court to direct Maryam to appear before NAB on March 26 along with a maximum of two persons, who may act as her support staff, out of which one may be an accountant to assist her.

Earlier, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had announced that thousands of activists of the opposition parties alliance will accompany Maryam to the NAB office on March 26.

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