The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday granted pre-arrest bail to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Punjab President Rana Sanaullah in the assets beyond means case.
A division bench, headed by Justice Muhammad Sarfraz Dogar, granted bail after National Accountability Bureau (NAB) failed to establish its case against the former provincial law minister.
Sanaullah had filed a bail plea in an inquiry initiated by NAB in the case. He had questioned how a matter of acquiring assets could be investigated by two separate departments with two different allegations.
As the proceedings commenced, special NAB prosecutor Syed Faisal Raza Bukhari argued that a drug smuggling case was registered against Sanaullah in July 2019, while the bureau received a complaint about his assets being beyond known means of income on June 24, 2019.
He apprised the bench that the petitioner, Chaudhry Tahir Riaz, submitted an application in NAB, praying to conduct a probe into the PML-N leader's assets.
Bukhari said on December 20, 2019, NAB gave the approval for the inquiry, while the PML-N leader's arrest warrants were issued on November 9, 2019, rejecting the impression that the bureau and the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) had been simultaneously investigating the matter.
He informed the court that the ANF’s case was about 9(c) of the Control of Narcotic Substances Act, 1997, while NAB was probing the assets beyond means case.
He said according to the law, the ANF was bound to approach its court within seven days for the purpose of getting an approval to freeze the properties of the accused.
The bench remarked, "So you mean that you are probing the matter in light of assets beyond means case in which the properties were actually frozen by the ANF court."
The NAB prosecutor replied, "In the ANF's matter, the subject matter is 16 kilogrammes of heroin."
The bench said then how the properties could be frozen without the order of the trial court.
Bukhari replied, “Perhaps, I cannot appropriately assist the court on this issue. The ANF’s case is about 9(c) and the trial court froze the properties because if the accused was punished under 9 (c), there should have already been some properties frozen."
Justice Dogar added, "You should preserve the 16kg heroin rather than the properties. Those properties had been frozen without the trial court passing any order in that regard."
Justice Asjad Javed Ghural asked whether the properties of the accused would be forfeited if he is awarded a sentence in 9 (c) of the CNSA, 1997.
NAB prosecutor replied if Sanaullah is awarded a sentence up to three years, his properties will be forfeited.
The bench observed, "Let’s assume that if Sanaullah is awarded punishment and his properties are forfeited, the same properties are required to be investigated by NAB in the assets beyond means case."
The bench asked, "Then, where does NAB [investigation] stand. Can the NAB investigate the same properties that the ANF has already frozen?"
The prosecutor could not satisfy the court with his replies.
He apprised the court that Sanaullah deceived the law by mentioning less value of his properties in the nomination papers submitted before the Election Commission of Pakistan.