The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday granted post-arrest bail to a former deputy drug controller accused of allocating excessive quantities of ephedrine to two pharmaceutical companies. This is the first bail plea to be accepted by the court in the scam.
The orders were passed by a two-member bench of LHC’s Rawalpindi bench, comprising Justice Khawaja Imtiaz Ahmed and Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi, after the prosecutor and investigators of Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) failed to convince the court to keep Abdul Sattar Surani in custody. The court also directed Surani to submit a surety bond worth Rs1 million.
Surani’s counsel, Abdul Rasheed Sheikh, maintained that the investigators had no evidence against his client as his job was to fix the prices of medicines registered with the health ministry and he had nothing to do with allocation of ephedrine quota.
He argued that the allegation of Danas Pharmaceuticals (a firm accused of obtaining the excess quota) paying his client’s rent was not supported by any evidence.
The lawyer also argued that the ANF had initially cited his client as a prosecution witness but included him in the list of accused later when he denied testifying against Ali Musa Gilani and Makhdoom Shahabuddin.
He contended that the two accused-turned-approvers - former health director general Dr Rasheed Jumma and former director Danas Pharmaceuticals Rizwan Khan - had not named Surani in their statements.
On the other hand, ANF Special Public Prosecutor Wasim Ahmed produced certain documents that showed Surani had consented to allocate the quota as the serving deputy drug controller in 2010.
Ahmed, however, could not satisfy the court on why the documents had not been included in the investigation report against Surani.
The prosecutor also could not produce a cheque for Rs198,000 that was allegedly paid to Surani as the rent of his house by Ansar Farooq, the chief executive of Danas Pharmaceutical.
Earlier, a special judge of Control of Narcotics Substance (CNS) court had denied bail to Surani.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2012.