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Illegal assets reference: LHC grants bail to Ahad Cheema

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April 8, 2021

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday granted post-arrest bail to former director general of Lahore Development Authority Ahad Cheema in a reference of illegal assets filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

At the outset of the hearing, a prosecutor sought time to file a reply on behalf of the Bureau against the bail petition of Cheema. Advocate Amjad Pervez, Cheema’s counsel, opposed the request for the adjournment and pointed out that the petitioner had been behind bars for three years. He said the trial was still pending with testimony of only 48 out of 210 prosecution witnesses so far.

The prosecutor said the petitioner also sought adjournments in the past. After hearing the arguments and going through the record, the bench comprising Justice Sardar Muhammad Sarfraz Dogar and Justice Asjad Javed Ghural granted bail to Cheema. The bench directed the petitioner to furnish bail bonds to the tune of Rs1 million.

The NAB alleges that Cheema owned moveable and immoveable properties in his own name and in the name of benamidars worth around Rs600 million. It accuses him of accumulating assets beyond his known sources of income and on the basis of corrupt practices as defined under section 9 (A) (V) of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999.

In his bail petition, Cheema denied the allegations of NAB as baseless and without any evidence. He said that the trial of the case was still at initial stage and its conclusion was not possible on account of the peculiar nature of the charge. He pleaded that incarceration for an infinite period would tantamount to punishment before trial.

Cheema said being a government servant there was no apprehension of absconding if he was released on bail. NAB had arrested Ahad Cheema on February 21, 2018, when he appeared before its investigation team in an inquiry about Ahsiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme. Later, NAB also initiated inquiries of the LDA-City scam and assets beyond means against him. He has already been granted bail in Ashiana and LDA-City cases.