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April 9, 2020

Cheema’s bail pleas adjourned until 13th

Lahore

April 9, 2020

LAHORE:The Lahore High Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing of petitions by former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Director General Ahad Cheema seeking post-arrest bail in Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme and assets beyond means cases.

Representing Cheema, Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar argued before a two-judge bench that the petitioner had been behind bars for more than two years and his co-accused had already been granted bail in the case. He said National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had yet to file complete reference against him. He said no other employee of the LDA had been arrested or implicated in the case except the petitioner.

He pointed out that former Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, one of the co-suspects in the housing scheme case, had already been granted bail by court. The counsel argued that no suspect could be kept behind bars for an indefinite period as a punishment until proven guilty.

To establish malafide of the NAB, he said the petitioner was first arrested in the housing scheme case and later arrested in another case three months after being sent on judicial remand by the trial court.

When the court asked about the delay in filing the reference, a prosecutor said the reference would be filed soon. The bench headed by Justice Sardar Naeem Ahmed adjourned further hearing till April 13 and directed the NAB prosecutor to extend his arguments. The NAB had arrested Cheema on Feb 21, 2018 on charges of misusing his authority with criminal intent and awarding Rs14 billion contracts of Ashiana-i-Iqbal housing scheme. It alleged that Cheema received illegal gratification in the form of 32 kanals of land from the owners of Paragon City Developers in reward of contract of the housing scheme awarded to its proxy firm namely Bismillah Engineering. The NAB alleged that Cheema being director general of the LDA accumulated assets in and outside the country beyond his known sources of income.

It said the illegal assets possessed by Cheema valued over Rs600 million. It said the bureaucrat also held benami properties in the names of his wife and other family members. Cheema had been granted bail in LDA City case.