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January 24, 2019

Shahbaz’s bail petitions: LHC bench issues notices to NAB


January 24, 2019

LAHORE: A Lahore High Court division bench issued notices to the NAB on separate petitions of Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif seeking bail in cases relating to the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme scam and the Ramzan Sugar Mills case.

As the hearing commenced on Wednesday, the bench led by Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan went through the files of the petitions and issued notices to the NAB for January 29.

Advocates Azam Nazir Tarar and Amjad Pervez appeared on behalf of Shahbaz. When asked about grounds for bail in the sugar mills’ case, the counsel told the bench that the NAB has not provided the petitioner with the grounds of his arrest. Advocate Tarar said the NAB arrested Shahbaz in the mills-related case during his custody in the housing scheme case. He pointed out that the trial court had also denied the Bureau’s request for physical remand of Opposition leader in the mills case.

In the housing scheme’s scam, Shahbaz has sought bail on medical grounds in addition to merits rejecting the story of the prosecution. The NAB accused Shahbaz of misusing his authority being the Punjab chief minister by unlawfully assuming powers of board of directors of PLDC, in connivance with his co-accused and awarded contract to an ineligible proxy firm that resulted in the failure of Ashiana Housing Scheme causing loss to public exchequer and depriving 61,000 applicants of houses. It is also alleged that Shahbaz's direction to entrust the housing scheme to LDA from the PLDC and intervention in affairs of the company were in violation of the Companies Ordinance, Memorandum and Article of Association and Corporate Governance Rules 2013. The NAB alleged that the former chief minister through his unlawful acts and misuse of authority caused huge loss to state exchequer amounting to Rs660 million and the project cost had also enhanced to the tune of Rs3.39 billion.

In the other reference, the NAB alleged that Shahbaz being chief minister had issued a directive for construction of a drain in district Chiniot primarily for the use of Ramzan Sugar Mills owned by his sons. It said Rs200 million were spent for this purpose from public money.

Meanwhile, a Lahore High Court division bench adjourned hearing of an appeal moved by PML-N senior leader Hanif Abbasi seeking suspension of his life imprisonment and fine awarded to him in the ephedrine quota case. The counsel of Anti-Narcotics Force appeared before the bench on Wednesday and sought time to file reply to the petition saying he received the notice of the hearing late.

The bench headed by Justice Sardar Muhammad Sarfraz Dogar allowed the request and adjourned the hearing till January 31. A special court for anti-narcotics had in July 2018 awarded life sentence and fine of Rs1 million to Hanif Abbasi in the eight-year old ephedrine quota case.

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