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Supreme Court (SC) judge Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, while presiding over Friday's hearing on Sharjeel Inam Memon's bail application, raised questions over the former minister's claims of deteriorating health.

The PPP leader had filed an application in SC for bail, saying that the "National Accountability Bureau (NAB) did not have any evidence" against him. He had also appealed to the court to constitute a medical board to provide him with services, which was accepted by NAB.

Memon requested the SC to set aside the Sindh High Court decision for his arrest, adding that the apex court has already issued an interim bail to another accused — Inaam Akbar — in the case.

Justice Khosa, in Friday's hearing, asked why everyone who was arrested by NAB fell ill and remarked that NAB should construct a state-of-the-art hospital to treat those people.

Referring to media reports that an entire hospital floor was allegedly booked for Memon, he said that some people were exploiting the law that allows prisoners with health problems to be transferred to a hospital.

"It has become a regular practice," he claimed. "Medical boards grant favours to people accused of crimes."

The former information minister had said that he was suffering from medical problems that could not be treated at the jail facility, a claim that had been rejected by NAB's prosecutor. Complying with Memon's request, NAB had ordered on December 13 that a medical board comprising neurologist and a neurophysician among other specialists be formed to determine whether the PPP leader could be treated in jail.

During Friday's hearing, Memon's lawyer told the court that Memon was transferred to a hospital after the jail administration had informed the Sindh government that he could not be treated in jail. Justice Khosa responded by pointing out that Memon was arrested after the Sindh High Court rejected his interim bail application earlier.

The SC issued a notice to federal government demanding an answer over whether Memon should be granted bail in the case, adjourning the hearing until the first week of January 2018.

Corrupt practices

On October 1, NAB had filed a reference against Memon and others for their involvement in the award of contracts for the Sindh government’s awareness campaigns to electronic media. The former minister is accused of misappropriating funds of more than Rs5 billion.

The reference said NAB had investigated corruption and corrupt practices in the award of contracts for advertisement awareness campaigns run on TV and FM channels between July 2013 and June 2015. It was found that the accused had acted in connivance with each other, resulting in a loss of Rs3,279,177,029 to the national exchequer.

It was revealed in the investigation that an amount of Rs5,766,479,766 was paid to seven advertisement companies in violation of the Sindh Public Procurement Rules 2010.

The former minister was arrested by NAB officials on November 23, along with 11 others who have been nominated in the reference.