Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz visited the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Saturday to submit a surety bond of Rs1 million for bail in the Jatti Umra land allotment case.
On March 24, the LHC granted pre-arrest bail to PML-N's de facto chief Maryam Nawaz, who was 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 had 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, had 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 had 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.
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 the 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 a 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.
On March 25, after the LHC rejected the NAB plea seeking to limit the number accompanying PML-N vice president to its Thokar Niaz Beg office to two, the anti-graft body announced putting off the interrogation of the party leader.
According to a press release issued by NAB, a meeting was held to discuss the hearing as well as the recommendations of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the body overseeing the country's Covid-19 response.
It was observed that the NCOC had banned all types of gatherings.
“The decision has been made in view of NCOC guidelines against coronavirus and in wider public interest,” the notification read.
Reacting to the NAB announcement, Maryam told reporters at her Jati Umra residence that she would not become an easy prey for the anti-graft body anymore.
“The days for using NAB for political victimisation are coming to an end,” she added.
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