LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday granted bail to former senior minister in Punjab and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Abdul Aleem Khan in a case relating to assets beyond means filed by the National Accountability Bureau.

Resuming his arguments, a NAB prosecutor presented statements of prosecution witnesses before a two-judge LHC bench, saying the accused had shown less value of his properties as they were disproportionate to his known sources of income.

He said foreign remittances of Rs89.4 million were transferred in the bank accounts of the accused, adding the accused had failed to justify the money he received from abroad and assets worth Rs900m. He said record had been sought from different countries regarding the properties of the accused.

Representing the PTI leader, Barrister Syed Ali Zafar pointed out that the entire amount and assets mentioned by NAB had already been declared in tax documents. He said the anti-graft watchdog was yet to prove any act of corruption or embezzlement against the petitioner.

Referring to various judgements of the Supreme Court, he said NAB must establish that the sources of funds available with the petitioner were outcome of any act of corruption or misuse of authority or that he gained any benefit or misappropriated any government funds or gave any contracts, etc.

Barrister Zafar said the documentary evidence showed that A&A (Pvt) Limited, the petitioner’s company, had purchased property for Rs79m through valid registered sale deeds for which the legal source of funds was available and this was duly accepted by the Federal Board of Revenue and income tax tribunal.

He argued that NAB had no documentary evidence to establish that the petitioner had shown lower value of his properties and was relying on verbal statements of some 12 witnesses. He said that even if established, undervaluation was not an offence under the NAB law, adding that the maximum penalty which could be imposed was that the stamp duty would have to be payable on additional amount.

Barrister Zafar said keeping somebody in jail while NAB was still making up its mind whether or not to file any reference would be a violation of due process enshrined in the Constitution.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the bench comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem allowed the petition of Aleem Khan and granted him bail subject to furnishing of two surety bonds of Rs1m each.

Aleem Khan was in the Punjab Assembly on a production order when the court announced the bail. Talking to the media outside the assembly, he said he was thankful to the Almighty Allah and had no complaints. He said he supported Prime Minister Imran Khan not for any personal gain or office but for the betterment of the country. The PTI leader said he would say goodbye to politics permanently if corruption of a single penny was established against him.

Aleem Khan used the occasion to question the way the NAB goes about conducting its business. He said NAB should make any arrest only after something tangible was found against a suspect during investigation.

Expressing dismay at NAB’s procedure, he said that only after a suspect was thrown behind bars that NAB began its deliberations to decide which case should be instituted against him. He described it as sheer injustice [zulm] not only to him but anyone passing through this procedure of the anti-graft watchdog.

Aleem Khan later returned to the jail in the evening from where he is likely be released on Thursday (today) after submission of bail bonds and issuance of robkar (release order).

NAB had arrested Aleem Khan on Feb 6 when he appeared before a combine investigation team at the bureau headquarters. An accountability court had on March 5 sent him to jail on judicial remand after denying NAB his further custody.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2019