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SC grants bail to Khawaja brothers in Paragon case

By Agencies
March 18, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday accepted the bail petitions of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Saad Rafique and his brother, Khawaja Salman Rafique, against surety bonds of Rs 3 million each in the Paragon Housing Society case.

A two-member bench of the apex court, comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, heard the bail pleas filed by the Khawaja brothers.

In his remarks, Justice Baqar said there is no solid reason why NAB wants to reject the bail applications of the Khawaja brothers. He also wondered whether there is “no capacity” for work in NAB or there is “no will”, or “there is a shortage of both these things”. He asked that if the money came in the accounts of the Khawaja brothers, “what is the illegal thing in it?”

Justice Baqar said NAB should tell the court if anything wrong has happened and if so, evidence to the same should be shown to the court.

He remarked that the Khawaja brothers are appearing before the court and recording their statements, and both have also not sought postponements, so “it is not right to say that the Khawaja brothers are not cooperating with NAB”.

The NAB prosecutor said the reference had been filed and investigation officer could require further investigation. Upon this, Justice Baqar said: “If the investigation officer says one day he needs to investigate them more, we should not grant them bail and allow them to remain in jail for this reason?”

Justice Baqar remarked that the Khawaja brothers cooperated with NAB, adding: so far “NAB has no solid evidence”.

The Khawaja siblings’ counsel argued the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal twice pardoned Qaiser Ameen Butt, a witness in the case, but it was later withdrawn because the chairman was displeased after Butt recorded a statement before a magistrate following the pardon. He said the NAB chairman pardoned Butt on December 5, 2018, and the witness wanted a plea-bargain deal, but NAB rejected his request. Pervez argued that NAB’s true goal was to only make a case against the Khawaja brothers. Later, the court granted bail to the siblings on surety bonds of Rs 3 million each.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah, Marriyum Aurangzeb and other PML-N leaders were present in the courtroom.

Following the hearings, the former railways minister said bails in the corruption reference “prove that political revenge was taken” from the PML-N leaders.

In April last year, NAB’s Lahore offices had approved filing of a reference against the Khawaja brothers and Nadeem Zia for alleged corruption in the case. Butt, the main accused in the case, was also included in the inquiry and was arrested in November. Subsequently, he agreed to turn approver against the Khawaja brothers and Zia.

In December last year, the Khawaja brothers were detained by the accountability watchdog after the Lahore High Court (LHC) rejected their bail pleas.