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April 18, 2019

LHC extends pre-arrest bail of Hamza till 25th

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April 18, 2019

LAHORE: A two-member bench of the Lahore High Court on Wednesday extended the interim pre-arrest bail of Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz till April 25 in three cases i.e. Ramzan Sugar Mills, Punjab Saaf Pani Company and assets beyond means being probed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

During the hearing, a NAB additional prosecutor told the bench that Hamza was called by an investigation team of the bureau a couple of days before. However, he declined to answer the questions of interrogators, insisting that he would respond to the queries in the court.

Hamza’s counsel was of the view that the copies of a questionnaire and case record provided by the NAB were either incomplete or unreadable. He sought time to respond to the bureau’s queries.

The bench comprising Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan and Justice Mirza Viqas Rauf adjourned the hearing, extending the interim pre-arrest bail of Hamza till April 25. The bench also issued a notice to the NAB on another petition of Hamza, seeking contempt proceedings against officials of the anti-graft watchdog for conducting raids on his residence in violation of a court order. The opposition leader contended that the court in an order disposed of his previous bail petition with the direction to the NAB to communicate to him if it finds any ground for his arrest so that he could have sufficient time of at least 10 days for approaching the court of competent jurisdiction.

However, he said the NAB issued warrants for arrest and raided his house twice in sheer violation of the court order. Therefore, he asked the court to initiate contempt proceedings against the officials involved in conducting raids on his residence.

The police took strict security measures on the high court premises before the appearance of Hamza as no one was allowed to attend court proceedings except lawyers engaged in the case from both sides, the NAB and the petitioner. The personnel also denied access to media persons as majority of the reporters were disallowed to enter the courtroom though their names were mentioned on a list provided to the police by the Public Relations Department of the high court. PML-N leaders and workers were kept at bay from the block where the two-judge bench was assembled to hear the bail petitions.

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