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NAB barred from taking coercive action against Mashhood

Lahore

July 4, 2019

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday restrained the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from taking coercive action against PML-N MPA and former Provincial Minister Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan and sought a reply on a point as to how an inquiry closed by its Executive Board Meeting (EBM) could be reopened.

Rana Mashhood personally appeared before a two-judge bench to plead his petition along with a counsel against the call-up notices being issued to him by the NAB and placing of his name on no-fly or black list. “Do you want pre-arrest bail?” Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, who headed the bench, asked Mr Khan after going through his petition. The former minister, also a lawyer, replied that he just wanted the NAB to provide him with details and grounds on the basis of which it started reinvestigating the old charges against him. He said the NAB had in 2017 closed the same inquiry against him and reopened it in violation of laws.

His counsel Qazi Misbahul Hassan also presented a copy of the EBM minutes that approved closing of the inquiry into allegations of video clipping/illegal gratification, misuse of funds for flood donations and accumulation of assets beyond means. He said the board, however, referred the matter to the extent of violation of procurement rules by Punjab Sports Board in youth festivals to the chief secretary for necessary action. When asked about the legitimacy of reopening a closed inquiry, a NAB prosecutor sought time from the bench to seek instructions on this point from the relevant authority.

The bench adjourned further hearing till July 24 and also sought replies from the ministry of interior and director general of passport regarding placing the petitioner’s name on black list. The NAB was also restrained from taking coercive action against the petitioner till next hearing.

Talking to the media, Mr Khan accused the government of resorting to vindictive actions against opposition and said he stopped travelling in his personal car since PML-N Punjab President Rana Sanaullah Khan had been arrested by ANF in a “fake case of narcotics.” The lawmaker said he did not seek bail from the court as the NAB inquiry against him was unlawful.

AGP absence in Model Town JIT case irks court: A Lahore High Court full bench on Wednesday showed displeasure over the absence of Advocate General Punjab (AGP) Ahmad Jamal Sukhera in proceedings against a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed by PTI government to hold a fresh probe into 2014 Model Town incident.

The bench headed by Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan observed that prima facie the conduct of the principal law officer tantamount to contempt of court as he also skipped last hearing. Additional Advocate General Mushtaq Mohal told the bench that the AGP was unable to appear due to an unavoidable engagement. He requested the bench for more time to file reply of the government on the matter. Justice Khan reminded the law officer that judicial work was supposed to be most important than any other engagement. Mushtaq Mohal urged the bench to defer the proceedings to wait for a decision on similar petitions pending before the Supreme Court. The bench accepted the request and gave two-month time to the province to get a decision by the apex court and directed the registrar office to fix the matter again after summer vacation in the high court. The bench also extended its stay against the functioning of the JIT. The new JIT was constituted on Jan 3, 2019 for a fresh probe into the Model Town carnage following a notification issued by the chief secretary. However, the bench with a majority decision of two to one had on March 22 suspended the notification. Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan and Justice Aalia Neelum were other members of the bench.

Khurram Rafiq and other police officials facing trial in the Model Town case had challenged the legitimacy of the new JIT. They argued that the Code of Criminal Procedure and Anti Terrorism Act 1997 did not allow fresh probe in a case after submission of challan and framing of charges in particular.

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