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March 8, 2018

LHC censures NAB for releasing Cheema’s picture


March 8, 2018

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday showed displeasure over National Accountability Bureau (NAB)’s move of making public a picture of former Lahore Development Authority DG Ahad Cheema, standing behind the bar and the strike observed by the bureaucrats against his arrest.

Addressing the NAB prosecutor, Justice Ali Baqar Najfi said, “If the petitioner stands vindicated after all the inquiries, how would you defend the harm caused to his reputation.” A two member bench is hearing Cheema’s petition, challenging his arrest in the Aashiana-e-Iqbal scam.

Representing Cheema, Azam Nazir Tarar argued that the NAB’s act was in sheer violation of Article 4 of the Constitution, which says no action detrimental to life, liberty, body, reputation or property of any person shall be taken except in accordance with law. But the prosecutor said there was no illegality in releasing pictures of arrested persons as police also had the same practice.

Continuing his arguments, Tarar pointed out that the NAB gave instant case unnecessary media hype and caused irreparable loss to the petitioner’s reputation. He raised concerns over NAB’s authority to release pictures of the arrested persons officially.

At this, Justice Najafi observed that there had been much hype in media about the arrest of the petitioner suggesting high stakes in the case. The judge also showed displeasure over the strike observed by the bureaucrats against the arrest. “Would they go on strike on every arrest of a bureaucrat by the NAB,” the judge asked the petitioner’s counsel.

The counsel said not a single penny of the provincial government had been spent so far on the project in question as all had been done by the private partners of the low-income housing scheme. He pointed out that four more inquiries had been approved against the petitioner during the physical remand only to prolong his custody with the NAB.

He pointed out that it was for the first time in the country’s history and the only reason was an unblemished career of the petitioner. He said Cheema was one of the most competent officers of the provincial government.

The prosecutor opposed the petition, saying challenging the arrest of the petitioner had become infractuous as the trial court duly granted physical remand. And the petitioner had not so far challenged his remand, he added.

The petitioner’s counsel sought time to challenge through a civil miscellaneous application the subsequent inquiries and the remand, which was allowed by the court. Later, further hearing of the matter was adjourned till March 26.

Cheema is on an extended physical remand till March 20 granted by an accountability court to the NAB.

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