Tuesday May 30, 2023

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s bail plea once again deferred

By Our Correspondent
June 23, 2020

LAHORE: A division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday adjourned the hearing of Jang-Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman's post-arrest bail petition in a 34-year-old property case till July 7.

As the hearing commenced, Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi, head of the bench, asked National Accountability Bureau (NAB) whether it had submitted its reply and comments to the petition. The anti-graft body's special prosecutor nodded in affirmative. Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem was the other member of the bench.

Justice Rizvi pointed out that the required copies of NAB reply were not attached to the case file. He asked as to why only one copy of NAB reply had been presented to the court, to which the prosecutor, Faisal Raza Bukhari, replied that he had submitted four copies to the LHC Registrar Office, as the office does not accept the reply if its set is not complete. "We will hear the case when the required copies of NAB's reply and comments are attached to the file," said Justice Shahbaz, and ordered the Registrar Office to attach required copies of the NAB's response to the file. The court also asked the NAB prosecutor to submit copies of the bureau's reply to the LHC officer if already submitted copies were missing.

The court asked whether Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was in the NAB custody on physical remand, to which his lawyer, Amjad Pervaiz, replied that he had been sent to jail on judicial remand. "What material against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has been brought forth after April 7?" asked the court. Director Land Development Bashir Ahmad and DG Lahore Development Authority Humayun Faiz Rasool's statements were recorded by NAB officials, replied Pervaiz.

The NAB special prosecutor stated that the anti-graft body had also recorded statements of two LDA officers, who were in service in 1986. Pervaiz told the court that according to NAB, the investigation against his client had been completed. He said no evidence against his client was presented. He said all documents had been provided to NAB, stating that nothing more could be obtained against his client. He urged the court to release Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman on bail. The court, however, deferred the hearing on the bail petition till July 7.

On the previous hearing, Pervaiz had told the court that his client's 94-year-old mother is seriously ill and the court should hear the case soon. NAB had arrested Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman on March 12 when he made his second appearance before its investigation team. He was sent to jail on judicial remand on April 28 by an accountability court.

The bureau alleged that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman illegally obtained exemption of 54 plots each measuring one kanal in Block-H, Johar Town area of Lahore. The petitioner's counsel had stated that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman had been cooperating with officials and the arrest was a flagrant violation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) of the accountability watchdog. The petitioner said his arrest was made in abuse of the NAB chairman's authority, as the arrest was made while the case was still in the process of verification. The petitioner argued that NAB had violated the 2019 businessmen policy, introduced by the government of Pakistan by arresting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. The petitioner's counsel requested the court to grant post-arrest bail to his client and order his immediate release from jail.