LAHORE: A Lahore High Court two-judge bench on Monday extended pre-arrest interim bail of Leader of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz till June 11 in two of the inquiries initiated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

However, the bench headed by Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi disposed of Mr Hamza’s bail petition in Punjab Saaf Pani Company inquiry after the NAB maintained that he was no more required in it.

Other inquiries against the opposition leader include assets beyond means, Ramzan Sugar Mills and money laundering.

At the outset, Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar on behalf of Mr Hamza requested the bench to adjourn the hearing for a date after Eid holidays.

However, Justice Naqvi turned down the request and said, “the matter would be decided today.”

Mr Tarar pointed out that another counsel for Mr Hamza in one of the three cases was on general adjournment for being out of country. The bench was also informed that Hamza was present in the court.

The judge, however, did not entertain the request saying the court was not bound to wait for the lawyer.

Justice Naqvi observed that political sloganeering every other day had turned the high court into Mochi Gate, a place known for political activities.

Resuming his arguments, Advocate Tarar said the NAB had issued three call-up notices to Hamza and the court had previously instructed the bureau to intimate the petitioner 10 days prior to his arrest.

Justice Naqvi asked the counsel, should not his client join the investigation like a common man.

The judge also observed that the NAB acted illegally in the case as it should have arrested all the suspects on day one.

Advocate Tarar objected to the remarks and said proceedings in the case would be of no use as the court had already disclosed its mind.

However, the counsel told the bench that Mr Hamza had continuously been appearing before the NAB whenever it summoned him.

The bench also reprimanded the NAB prosecutor for failing to inform it about correct numbers of the case files.

Justice Naqvi said this showed how “seriousness” and “ability” of the NAB prosecution team.

The bench adjourned hearing till June 11 and also extended the pre-arrest interim bail of Hamza.

Previously, a bench comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem had recused itself from the bail petitions of Mr Hamza after he expressed reservations on it in the light of a controversial media interview of NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2019