LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition of former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) chief Ahad Cheema against his arrest by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme scam.

In its order, a division bench comprising Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan and Justice Muhammad Tariq Abbasi observed that the petition was non-maintainable.

Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar represented Cheema in the case pleading that the NAB violated its own laws by arresting the petitioner without any justification. He said Cheema had extended full cooperation to the investigation team of the bureau and also furnished all information required in the summons.

A NAB prosecutor objected to the maintainability of the petition saying the petitioner was on physical remand. The prosecutor asked the court to dismiss the petition for being non-maintainable as arrest could not be challenged during physical remand. He said all legal requirements had been fulfilled before the arrest of the petitioner. The petitioner was summoned more than once, but he failed to appear before the investigation team.

The same bench issued notices to the NAB on bail petitions filed by LDA chief engineer Israr Saeed and Arif Majeed Butt of Punjab Land Development Company in the same case.

The suspects contended through their counsel that they were dragged in the case only for complying with the official directions issued by Mr Cheema being director general of the LDA.

They said an accountability court had sent them to jail on judicial remand after the NAB did not object to their release. The petitioners asked the court to grant them bail as they were no more required by the bureau. The bench issued notices to the NAB for April 9.

Meanwhile, an accountability court extended physical remand of Cheema and three other suspects for another 14 days in the low-cost housing scheme scandal. The other suspects included Shahid Shafiq Faridi, Imtiaz Haider and Bilal Qidwai.

A NAB prosecutor told the court that a laptop recovered from Cheema was yet to be decoded and investigation regarding 136 kanal was in progress.

He further said that Nadeem Zia of Paragon City developers had not been cooperating with the NAB in investigation. He asked the court to extend physical remand of the suspects to complete the investigation. The court allowed the request and granted further remand of the suspects for 14 days till April 17.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2018