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April 17, 2021

Shahbaz release halted as bail order not signed by one of two judges

Top Story

April 17, 2021

LAHORE: Release of Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly has been halted as written judgment in his bail matter in alleged money laundering reference yet has not been released by the Lahore High Court (LHC).

A two-judge bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) comprising Justice Sardar Muhammad Sarfraz Dogar and Justice Asjad Javed Ghural on April 13 had granted bail to opposition leader and former Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who was arrested in a money laundering case. However, the release order of Shahbaz Sharif could not be issued on Friday as the written decision of bail has not been issued yet, due to which the release on bail of Shahbaz Sharif has been postponed. According to the law, the release of the PML-N president is not possible till a written bail is issued after the signatures of the two judges in the two-member bench.

Meanwhile, the bench comprising Justice Sarfraz Dogar and Justice Asjad Javed Gharal has been dissolved by the LHC chief justice and a new NAB appellate bench comprising Justice Alia Neelam and Justice Farooq Haider has been constituted.

Justice Sarfraz Dogar was sent to the LHC Multan bench and Justice Asjad Javed Gharal to Bhawalpur bench. The NAB appellate bench comprising Justices Sarfraz Dogar and Asjad Javed Gharal was hearing other important cases besides Shahbaz Sharif, former defense minister and PML-N leader Khawaja Asif, who was arrested on charges of assets beyond means.

However, sources in higher judiciary claimed that the written judgment yet has not been released as the bench had passed a dissenting order.

On April 13, said division bench after holding a lengthy hearing on Shahbaz’s bail petition into money laundering case had reserved the verdict.

The PML-N leaders and lawyers were present in the courtroom and 20 minutes later, the court reader came to the courtroom and announced in a loud voice that Shahbaz Sharif’s bail application had been accepted and he was required to furnish two bail bonds of Rs5 million each.

PML-N leaders including Rana Sanaullah, Maryam Aurangzeb, present in the court room, started congratulating each other and also expressed happiness while talking to the media. Justice Dogar wrote a short decision on bail petition and sent it to Justice Asjad Javed Gharal, who did not sign it.

Next day Justice Ghural came to the High Court and heard the cases as a single bench but did not go to the division bench that resulted in cancelation of the cause list. Justice Ghural disagreed with bail granting order and informed Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan.

Moreover, sources said that after this now both the judges Justice Sarfraz Dogar and Justice Asjad Javed Gharal will write their separate verdicts and send them to the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court who will then send the Shahbaz Sharif bail case to the referee judge. Now Lahore High chief justice would appoint a referee judge who would agree the order of one of the dissenting judges and the bail petition would be rejected or accepted by majority of 2:1, sources added.

Shahbaz Sharif had filed a bail application in the Lahore High Court. The petition stated that the reference of money laundering has been filed and the trial is going on. The petition said that Shahbaz Sharif has been in jail for several months and all records are with the NAB. The petition stated that Shahbaz Sharif is constantly appearing in the reference trial. It further stated that the petitioner is 70-year-old and has cancer, suffers from diseases other than back pain. The case has been framed on political grounds, petition alleged. Shahbaz requested the court to issue his release orders on bail in money laundering reference.