A special Court in Lahore, which is hearing the money laundering case involving Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shahbaz, on Saturday accepted the pre-arrest bail pleas of the premier and the CM.
The court directed the father and the son to submit a surety bond of Rs1 million each.
During the hearing earlier today, the premier took to the rostrum and told the court that his family had suffered due to his decisions as he had given preference to the common people rather than his own family members.
Advocate Amjad Pervez, representing the Sharif family, argued that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had not found any evidence which could establish a connection between the premier and the chief minister with the accounts mentioned in the money laundering case.
However, FIA Prosecutor Farooq Bajwa told the court that substantial evidence has been collected from the time when Shehbaz was the provincial chief minister and two cheques had also been deposited to one Gulzar's account.
Advocate Amjad responded that depositing money did not equate to money laundering.
The FIA further revealed that two of the accused had not been included in the investigation. “That is astonishing,” advocate Amjad responded, adding that the information should have been conveyed at an earlier stage of the trial.
“We are at a loss to understand why the FIA could not investigate them,” he maintained. The court after hearing detailed arguments reserved its decision.
In earlier proceedings, the FIA had demanded the arrest of Shehbaz and Hamza after the judge had questioned if the FIA believed it mandatory to arrest the father-son duo.
According to the FIA’s prosecutor “as per the demand, which had also been put in the challan, the arrest of said accused is required for further investigation”.
The judge also issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Suleman Shehbaz, Tahir Naqvi and Malik Maqsood Ahmed with direction to the concerned station house officer (SHO) to implement the warrants and report them in person before the next court date.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chief Minister Mian Shehbaz Sharif were both present in the courtroom during the proceedings.
Advocate Amjad’s arguments included various points such as “no statements recorded under section 161 are on case record; no cogent or substantial evidence is available which could prove the crime on the part of the accused persons; no evidence is available to establish that neither Mian Shehbaz Sharif nor Hamza Shahbaz opened the bank accounts or operated them”.
Responding to the FIA’s request for arresting the PM and the CM, he cited judgments from the Supreme Court and the Lahore High Court, highlighting the extent of bail matters.
He added that the high court and the apex court had declared such an arrest as “malafide” if the investigation has been completed, challan had been submitted and that no delay could be proved on the part of the accused.
He further argued that the FIA had submitted the challan before the court and its copies had been delivered
Advocate Amjad questioned which grounds the challan had been submitted on if further inquiry was required, maintaining that a challan is submitted after probing the matter rather than at the beginning of the investigation.
The FIA’s prosecutor submitted the supplementary challan removing lacunas and including all missing details. However, the FIA was to start its arguments on June 11.
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