RAWALPINDI, Oct 4: A division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC), Rawalpindi Registry, directed the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) on Thursday to reply to a petition filed by Textile Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin, an accused in the ephedrine case, seeking restoration of his bank accounts.

The bench comprising Justice Saghir Ahmed Qadri and Justice Ali Baqir Najafi heard preliminary arguments on the petition filed through Makhdoom Shahab’s counsel Abdul Rashid Sheikh and adjourned the hearing till Oct 10.

The ANF’s regional director and assistant director (assets investigation) as well as 22 banks have been made respondents in the petition.

Advocate Sheikh said his client was a notable politician who had been allegedly victimised by the ANF and roped in in the ephedrine misuse scam despite the fact that there was no evidence linking him to the crime.

He said the ANF had obtained arrest warrants for the petitioner a day before the election of prime minister and this had been done in connivance with “unseen forces”.

He said the mala fide intent of the ANF against the petitioner did not end after obtaining the warrants and depriving him of the premiership, but its assistant director sent a letter to 22 banks on June 22 to obtain information about his accounts.

The lawyer said the letter had been sent under Sections 31, 38 and 6/4 of the Control of Narcotics Substance (CNS) Act. Under Section 37 of the CNS Act, the ANF could only freeze the bank accounts of Makhdoom Shahab if the court permitted it to do so, he said.

He informed the court that the 22 banks in response to the ANF letter had blocked the accounts of Makhdoom Shahab and his close relatives and he could not draw cash to run his day-to-day affairs.

The lawyer alleged that the ANF action was tantamount to misuse of authority and violation of the constitutional rights of the petitioner.

In the letter, he said, ANF Assistant Director (assets investigation) Naeemuddin sought details of bank accounts of Makhdoom Shahab, his relatives and associates and warned the banks of legal actions if they did not comply with the directive.

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