RAWALPINDI, Dec 11: The Lahore High Court (LHC) here on Tuesday accepted the post-arrest bail plea of a former director general health and two pharmaceutical company chief executives in the ephedrine case.

Asad Hafeez, the former director general health, was charged with allowing the conversion of 2,415 kg ephedrine from the export quota into local sale. He was arrested in June this year.

Ansar Farooq Chaudhry and Iftikhar Ahmed Babar, the owners of Danas and Berlex pharmaceutical companies, were booked on October 10, 2011, for misusing and selling 9,000 kilogrammes of the controlled chemical to narcotics smuggler. On April 24, the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) arrested Farooq Chaudhry and Ahmed Babar after the court rejected their pre-arrest bail plea.

According to the prosecution, the accused persons got the ephedrine quota from the health ministry for exporting it to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rizwan Ahmed Khan, a former director of Danas pharmaceutical company, confessed that he along with Iftikhar, the owner of Berlex Pharma, planned to get the ephedrine quota for manufacturing and exporting E-tone tablets during 2010. He said former director general health Dr Rasheed Juma, who later turned an approver, allowed the conversion of ephedrine. Later, his successor Asad Hafeez allowed the conversion of 2,415 kg ephedrine into local sale.

The LHC bench, comprising Justice Chaudhry Mohammad Younis and Justice Ali Baqir Najafi, ordered the release of Ansar Chaudhry, Iftikhar Babar and Asad Hafeez against Rs1 million surety bond each.

Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, the counsel for the petitioners, contended before the court that the ANF could not investigate the case. He said only the officials of the health ministry, under the drugs act, could initiate proceedings after observing any illegality or misuse of the controlled chemical.

The counsel argued that ephedrine was not a controlled substance. It is not the case of narcotics rather a case of drugs, he argued.

The ANF prosecutor said senior officials of the health ministry had violated rules in granting the quota for the chemical that was enlisted as a controlled substance. The prosecutor said gross irregularities had been found in allocation of the quota involving officials of the ministry.

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