October 20, 2016Print : Karachi
Authorities directed to ensure their presence at next hearing on November 5; former Sindh minister has announced plans to return to Pakistan by October-end, already
acquired anticipatory bail till November 7 from SHC
An accountability court (AC) on Wednesday reissued non-bailable warrants of arrest against former provincial information minister Sharjeel Memon and others over their frequent absence from hearings of a case pertaining to corruption worth Rs5 billion.
The court issued the warrants with strict directives to ensure the presence of all absconders at the next hearing on November 5.
Thirteen of the accused facing corruption charges were produced in court, while six others have already obtained pre-arrest bail. The court also directed the prosecution – the National Accountability Bureau, in this case – to provide all accused with copies of the charges against them.
Expressing displeasure over the frequent absence of Sharjeel Memon, Aneeta Baloch and other absconding accused, the court reissued NBWs against them and ordered the authorities concerned to ensure their presence at the November 5 hearing.
Sharjeel Inam Memon, once an influential and high-profile provincial minister who is now facing multi-million- rupee corruption charges, had announced on October 5 that he would return to Pakistan by the end of the current month.
His announcement came a day after the same accountability court had issued non-bailable warrants to ensure Memon’s appearance before it on the October 19 hearing.
In a tweet, Memon, the former Sindh information and local government minister and currently an MPA of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, announced his return to the country by the end of October to face what he described as “false and fabricated” cases against him.
Two former provincial ministers, Sharjeel Memon and Owais Muzaffar, have been out of the country for the last several months because of the federal accountability agencies’ probe against them in connection with corruption charges and land scams.
Days after announcing his return to Pakistan by the end of the month, Sharjeel Memon was granted anticipatory bail by the Sindh High Court (SHC) in the Rs5 billion corruption reference.
The PPP leader had been living in self-exile in London for over a year had left after law-enforcement agencies launched a crackdown against politicians and bureaucrats on various corruption cases.
Memon’s counsel submitted that his client was falsely booked by NAB in the case, and that he was not issued a call up notice or given any other information regarding the charges while he was out of the country. The counsel argued that Memon was being politically victimised, and further claimed that he was not allowed to enter Pakistan to defend himself in accordance with the law.
The PPP parliamentarian, his lawyer contended, had neither been involved in any corrupt practices nor had he ever misused his power during his tenure as a minister of the provincial government, his counsel maintained. He added that the petitioner’s name was placed on the ECL despite the fact that he was not in Pakistan, adding, that the act was carried out only to harass the petitioner and prevent him from approaching the court of law to obtain a bail or protection in accordance with the law.
The counsel submitted that the former information minister was willing to surrender before the trial court to face charges levelled against him.
He requested the court to grant anticipatory bail to him so that he could safely arrive in the country, and surrender before the trial court to obtain a bail in the case. The counsel further informed the court that Memon was due to arrive in Pakistan on November 5, via flight number EK-608; relevant record with respect to his return were submitted to the court.
The court granted anticipatory bail to the Sharjeel Memon till November 7 on condition of paying a surety bond of Rs2 million as soon as he arrived in Karachi, and appeared before the court’s Nazir. The court observed that the anticipatory bail order would cease to have its effect on November 7 or on the date on which the petitioner surrenders before the competent court of jurisdiction, whichever was earlier.
The NAB had filed a corruption reference against Memon, other information department officials and advertising companies’ representatives for illegalities in the process of awarding contracts worth over Rs5 billion for official Sindh government awareness campaigns for the electronic media.