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Web Desk
April 22, 2021

LHC grants bail to Shehbaz Sharif


Web Desk
Thu, Apr 22, 2021
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday approved PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif’sbail after the initial order of the court, granting bail to the opposition leader, was sent to the referee judge due to dispute between the judges.

A three-member bench of the LHC, comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, Justice Alia Neelum and Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi, heard the bail application of the PML-N president.

At the onset of the hearing, the court was mired by a verbal scuffle between NAB and Shahbaz's lawyer.

“Yesterday, Shahbaz Sharif's lawyers did not see that the bail was rejected after approval,” said NAB's lawyer. Shahbaz's counsel objected to the argument.

To this, the court also told Shahbaz's lawyer, Azam Nazeer Tarar, that it had issued certain directions to him. He told the court that if NAB had objections, it can issue a contempt notice to him.

Seeing the verbal scuffle between them, the bench warned that it would adjourn the hearing if both lawyers continued.

Tarar then took a back seat and the court allowed the NAB lawyer to continue with his arguments.

The NAB prosecutor told the bench that Shahbaz's five sons and daughter are absconding.

“Suleman Shehbaz, Nusrat Shahbaz, Rabia Imran, Haroon Yousuf, Syed Tahir Naqvi and Ali Hamid are absconding,” said NAB’s lawyer Faisal Raza Bukhari.

The lawyer shared with the bench the high court orders directing Nusrat Shehbaz to be part of the case through her lawyer.

He then added that the accountability watchdog had sent call-up notices to the accused but did not receive any response.

Bukhari told the bench that in 1990, Shehbaz had declared assets of Rs2.1 million and in 1998 they had risen to Rs10.48 million. He then claimed that from 2010-2018 the Model Town residence of Shehbaz was turned into a camp office for the chief minister.

Bukhari said that the opposition leader declared assets of Rs7.32 billion and all the assets were gained after 2005.

The NAB prosecutor claimed that 23 telegraphic transfers (TTs) were made to Hamza Shahbaz’s account. He added that Rabia and Javeria had received telegraphic transfers worth millions too.

The NAB lawyer further told the bench that they had found 12 TTs worth Rs112 million in the account of a contractual employee, Nasir Ahmed.

“Rs1.8 billion was transferred in Good Nature company’s account. These companies were operated by Haroon Yousuf,” said the NAB prosecutor.

The court questioned the NAB lawyer about the details that had emerged after the bureau investigated the TTs.

At this, the NAB lawyer told the court that the TTs were sent by people who said they had never left Pakistan. He added that some did not even have a passport.

“Which country were the TTs made from?” asked the court.

The NAB lawyer responded that they were from Dubai and the United Kingdom.

“For what reason were these TTs sent,” the court then asked.

“They have no response for this,” interjected Shahbaz’s counsel Amjad Pervaiz upon the court’s questioning.

However, Bukhari told the court that their case was of assets beyond means.

“NAB has no response for why and for what reason the money had come,” said Shahbaz’s counsel at NAB’s response.

Hearing the response, Justice Baqar Najafi asked the NAB lawyer again if the body had investigated the TTs and where they had come from.

“When we investigated them, people said they had not gone out of the country,” Bukhari told the judge. He added that when they further investigated the transactions, they found they had come from the UAE.

“There must be a source who can tell how and who sent the money,” the court then asked the NAB lawyer.

“The money that used to come must have come for a reason, tell us,” said Justice Najafi. He added that when an asset beyond means case is registered, NAB looks at the illegal ways through which money was transferred.

“How do you call the [transactions] anonymous?” asked Justice Najafi.

At this, the NAB prosecutor said that Shahbaz does not have a source of income. He added that Salman Shahbaz had declared his assets in 1995, 1996 and 2008.

“These are assets of Salman Shahbaz what relation do they have with Shahbaz Sharif?” asked Justice Najafi.

At this, the NAB prosecutor stated that they are the Benami transaction makers of Shahbaz Sharif. He added that it was the former Punjab CM that turned his wife’s residence into a camp office.

At this, Shahbaz’s lawyer intervened and said that the former CM still lives in that house.

Upon hearing this, Justice Najafi quipped that these days Shahbaz Sharif lives in jail. The judge’s quirky response resulted in a burst of laughter in the courtroom.

After the NAB prosecutor wrapped up his arguments, Shahbaz’s lawyer Amjad Pervaiz came to the rostrum and told the bench that NAB had declared members of Shahbaz Sharif’s family benamidars with malafide intentions.

Pervaiz claimed that NAB registered the asset beyond means case under pressure from the government. He added that not even one witness had testified against his client.

The three-member bench after hearing the arguments issued bail to the opposition leader against two surety bonds of Rs5 million each.

Last week, a division bench comprising Justice Sardar Muhammad Sarfraz Dogar and Justice Asjad Javed Ghural, issued a split decision on the petition of Shahbaz, sending the matter to the chief justice for the nomination of a referee judge.

Justice Dogar, the head of the bench, had allowed the petition while Justice Ghural dismissed the same on merit.

In his dissenting note, Justice Ghural accused the senior judge of issuing the bail granting short order ‘unilaterally’.