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January 23, 2021

SC dismisses Hamza's bail plea as withdrawn

Top Story

 
January 23, 2021

By Sohail Khan

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Friday dismissed as withdrawn a petition filed by Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, seeking post-arrest bail in a case of money-laundering and assets beyond means.

A three-member bench of the Apex Court, headed by Justice Mushir Alam and comprising Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Yahya Afridi, heard the petition of Hamza Shahbaz. His counsel Amjad Pervez submitted that he was seeking bail on the basis of hardship, adding that his client had been behind bars for one year and seven months.

Justice Sardar Tariq Masood questioned as to how could they look into the aspect of hardship when it was not raised before the High Court. The judge said that it would be appropriate to move to the High Court after the release of a report of the accountability court. The counsel, however, contended that the point of hardship had not been raised before the High Court as there was no grounds for it at that time. He submitted that at the time the detention of his client was less than a year.

The court observed that how could it hear the point which had not been raised before the High Court. Justice Yahya Afridi observed that it would be better to move the High Court after the release of a report of the accountability court. The lawyer informed the court that the anti-graft body had not filed a reference against his client when they moved the Apex Court for post-arrest bail. “There has been an allegation of Rs7 billion against my client but the reference was filed for Rs530m”, the counsel contended.

During the hearing, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Additional Prosecutor Imranul Haq informed the court that the grounds for delay had been taken up by the High Court, therefore, the Supreme Court could not enter into the question of hardship on account of delay in conclusion of the trial.

“In the circumstances, the grounds not taken before the High Court cannot be allowed to be taken before the Supreme Court”, he argued.

At this, the counsel for Hamza Shahbaz sought permission to withdraw the case as he intend to file a fresh bail application before the High Court on the grounds of statutory delay to which the court allowed and dismissed the petition as withdrawn.

Hamza Shahbaz had approached the Supreme Court after the Lahore High Court denied bail to him in the money-laundering case in February 2020, but granted bail to him in the Ramzan sugar mills case. Later, he also sought bail on the grounds of being vulnerable to coronavirus in the jail. However, the LHC did not agree to it and Hamza’s counsel withdrew the petition to seek bail from the SC on merit.