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March 27, 2020

Counsel tells LHC: NAB violated its policy, SOPs in Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest

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March 27, 2020

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to submit para-wise comments on a petition, filed by Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman (MSR), seeking his post-arrest bail in a 34-year-old private property case.

MSR filed the bail petition on Wednesday through his counsel, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, which came up for hearing before a two-member LHC bench, headed by Justice Sardar Naeem Ahmed, on Thursday.

At the outset of the haring, Aitzaz Ahsan pointed out that NAB violated its policy and the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in arrest of MSR. He said NAB had itself decided not to summon businesspeople and issued an SOP to this effect in Oct 2019.

The court asked the counsel whether MSR was a businessman and if a journalist could be considered as a businessman.

Aitzaz submitted that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman falls under the category of businessman and he was running a very large media group. He said MRS’s wife Shahina Shakil had also filed a habeas corpus petition on March 16, challenging the detention. He argued that his client was in illegal detention of NAB and should be released at once.

To a court query, he said the habeas corpus petition was also pending with the court. The court summoned the file and remarked that it would hear both petitions together, as they carried similar questions of fact and law. The court briefly adjourned the hearing.

As hearing resumed after a short break, NAB Special Prosecutor Faisal Bukhari informed the court that the case against MSR was at an inquiry stage and the Bureau got his physical remand from an accountability court on Wednesday.

“If the accountability court has extended the remand in the case then what is left to look into the case?” the court told Aitzaz Ahsan.

However, the lawyer pointed out that the plea challenging the extension in remand had already been filed in the court.

The court directed petitioner’s counsel to append the remand order by the accountability court with the petition against MSR’s arrest.

The court adjourned the hearing till March 30 and directed NAB to present reasons for MSR arrest.

NAB was also asked to file its reply to an earlier petition by MSR’s wife challenging his arrest.

The NAB chairman, a director-general and judges of the accountability court, along with others, have been named as respondents in the petition.