The counsels cited judgments wherein accused were granted relief in case of judges giving split decisions.
A three member bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi directed the NAB’s special prosecutor Syed Faisal Raza Bukhari to begin his arguments on April 22 (tomorrow). Justice Aalia Neelum and Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi were other members of the bench hearing the case.
The case pertaining to Shehbaz Sharif's bail plea was earlier heard by a division bench headed by Justice Sardar Muhammad Sarfraz Dogar.
Initially, the bail was allowed but later the other member of the bench, Justice Asjad Javed Ghural, denied signing the bail order and gave a dissenting note. The matter was later sent to LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan who then constituted a three-member bench to hear the matter.
As proceedings commenced today (April 21), the bench asked Shehbaz’s counsels Senator Azam Nazir Tarar and Amjad Pervez to begin arguing the facts of the case.
Replying to the judges’ request, Shehbaz’s counsels argued that they do not want to take the case back to where it began from.
However, Justice Najafi responded that the bench was not aware of the case, asking the counsels how they expected the bench to reach a verdict without knowing it.
While presenting his arguments, Advocate Amjad Pervez contended that the Supreme Court had in one of its judgment's maintained that the accused could not be deprived of the right of bail if the division bench had split decisions.
The judge who gave the dissenting note had not elaborated on the points he believed the accused should not be granted bail, the counsel maintained.
To this, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) special prosecutor Syed Faisal Raza Bukhari argued that elaborating on the points did not matter.
The bench further questioned the prosecutor about the total number of prosecution witnesses and how many of thtem had their statements recorded.
“There are a total of 110 prosecution witnesses, out of them nine have been recorded. While the 10th was being recorded when the judges were transferred,” the prosecutor replied.
Senator Azam Nazir Tarar and Amjad Pervez argued that NAB had completely failed in establishing any connection of Shehbaz Sharif's with any sort of criminality. They implored that NAB does not have even a single prosecution witness on record who testified against the PML-N leader's criminality.
They further argued that NAB connected assets belonging to members of Shehbaz Sharif’s family with him, claiming that these assets were under his control though they were not. They argued that all family members were independent and had control on their assets.
“This case is about Rs7 billion and NAB claims that Shehbaz Sharif could not answer for Rs27 billion, while the truth is that Sharif had declared these in the FBR, ECP and other records,” the counsels stated.
The PML-N president’s lawyers further asserted that, “NAB is not accepting the income that Shehbaz earned from his agricultural land. It is astonishing that NAB evaluated Rs1000 per year against one acre, asking his clients how he earned the rest of the amount.”
At this, the NAB’s prosecutor argued that Shehbaz Sharif failed in explaining the sources of his income.
“The case revolves around the hardships, delay in conclusion of trial, the trial court’s report which it submitted in the Supreme Court of Pakistan mentioning that it will take at-least one year to conclude the trial, and around the ailments suffering from Shehbaz Sharif,” the counsels further maintained, adding that NAB implicated Shehbaz in forged assets beyond means and money laundering cases.
NAB’s prosecutor Bukhari argued that the statements of approver Mushtaq were on record who told NAB that the money was whitened through different transactions and TTs [telegraph transfers].
“The money was being transferred through TTs since 2005 but these TTs were in full swing from 2008 to 2018 and billions of rupees were made legal through illegal ways,” Bukhari stated.