LAHORE: A Lahore High Court (LHC) division bench on Monday expressed displeasure over absence of the counsel for the former head of the Lahore Development Authority, Ahad Khan Cheema, during the hearing of a petition against his arrest by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme scam.

Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar was not present in the court when the bench, headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, resumed hearing of the petition.

An associate of Mr Tarar told the bench that the lead counsel could not appear due to an unavoidable engagement at the Higher Education Commission (HEC). He said Mr Tarar, being head of a legal education committee of the Pakistan Bar Council, was to represent the bar at the meeting with the HEC officials.

Justice Najafi said the counsel should have filed an adjournment request in writing rather than verbal information conveyed through a junior associate. The judge observed that the hearing could not be adjourned for a long date and directed the counsel to appear today (Tuesday). Mr Cheema had pleaded in the petition that NAB had violated laws before making his arrest.

On a previous hearing, Advocate Tarar argued that the petitioner had provided all information about his property in question to the NAB but he was taken into custody and a rough statement of allegations was served upon him.

PARAGON: The LHC division bench also issued a notice to NAB on a petition moved by Paragon City, Tipu Developers and Executive Builders against freezing of their bank accounts by the bureau.

The counsel for the companies stated that NAB had initiated an inquiry against the petitioners/companies and got their bank accounts frozen while no offence had been established so far.

He said the companies had been facing acute shortage of funds and were unable to pay salaries of their employees and run day-to-day affairs. He prayed to the court to order NAB to unfreeze bank accounts of the petitioner companies.

The bench turned down the request for the instant relief and issued a notice to NAB for April 12.

Meanwhile, the bench reserved the verdict on a petition filed by a co-suspect of Ahad Cheema challenging several provisions of the NAB ordinance.

Shahid Shafiq Faridi of Bismillah Engineering contended, through his counsel, that the provisions of the ordinance empowering NAB to make arrests on mere allegations had been revoked. He argued that NAB acted beyond its jurisdiction by arresting the petitioner.

A NAB prosecutor, however, contended that no violation of law had been committed in the arrest of the petitioner. After hearing the arguments, the bench reserved judgment on the petition.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2018

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