LAHORE: PML-N Punjab president and former law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan on Monday told a trial court that the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) had neither quizzed him nor did it record his formal statement since his arrest in a narcotics case on first day of the last month.
“I was taken to the ANF office right after my arrest and no interrogation was carried out but the next day, the judicial magistrate was informed that the investigation had been completed,” he told the presiding judge of a special court for Control of Narcotics Substance (CNS).
Earlier, the PML-N senior leader was brought to the court from the jail for the first hearing of the trial since the ANF submitted challan against him and other suspects in 15kg heroin recovery case on July 23. Judge Khalid Bashir heard the case as the duty judge as the court concerned awaits its presiding judge since repatriation of District & Sessions Judge Masood Arshad to the Lahore High Court. The federal law ministry had stopped Mr Arshad from working citing issues regarding his impartiality and integrity.
At the outset of the Monday’s proceedings, the duty judge asked the defence side whether the accused was in the courtroom. The judge called Rana Sanaullah Khan to the rostrum after Azam Nazir Tarar, one of the defence counsel, answered in affirmative.
Defence counsel seeks Sana’s check-up from PIC; court extends judicial remand until Aug 9
Responding to a court’s query about his medical check-up, the former minister said the jail doctors had conducted his medical examination but never shared reports with him. He also complained about the poor condition of the jail hospital.
The defence counsel said Rana Sana was suffering from heart disease and required a complete check-up at the Punjab Institute Cardiology (PIC) or any other specialised hospital. He also sought permission for the accused to have medicines and home-cooked food in jail.
The judge asked the counsel to file a written application in this regard and also sought a report from the jail superintendent about medical examination of the accused.
Coming back to the main case, the defence counsel said the ANF had filed incomplete challan and leaked it to the media for character assassination of his client.
To a query about submission of challan during summer vacations in the district judiciary, a prosecutor told the court that the ANF was directed by a judicial magistrate to do so.
The prosecutor said the challan submitted in the court was complete; however, a chemical examination report of the recovered narcotics was still awaited.
Rana Sanaullah told the court he had not been interrogated so far nor was confronted with any evidence or alleged video of his arrest. He said the prosecution had prepared the challan on its own, without taking his formal statement. He urged the court to take notice of the illegality and political victimisation being committed in the case.
The court extended judicial remand for him and other suspects till Aug 9 and directed the prosecution to submit all the documents of the case.
Before the proceedings, PML-N president and leader of opposition in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif met Rana Sanaullah in the courtroom, filled with the party’s lawyers and loyalists.
Talking to the media, Mr Sharif said Rana Sana was his old comrade and he had come to meet him in the court as the jail authorities denied him visit despite repeated requests. Mr Sharif reached the judicial complex on foot as his vehicle was stopped near the MAO College due to closure of all adjacent roads by placing containers and barbwires. The traffic also remained jammed for hours in the vicinity.
On his way back to the jail, Rana Sanaullah also had a brief conversation with the media, saying the confession attributed to him in the challan was not true. He said the prosecution story was nothing but a joke.
“Where is that video?” he questioned, referring to a claim of State Minister for Interior Sheharyar Afridi that the ANF had filmed his arrest with the recovery of drugs.
He challenged the ANF to present any picture of him with the complainant, an official of the force, in the case at the time of arrest or later. He said the prosecution had failed to produce any independent witness against him.
The former law minister of Punjab also condemned the government for repatriating the relevant presiding judge and alleged that move was to get a guilty verdict against him.
The ANF had arrested Khan on his way to Lahore from his native city of Faisalabad near Ravi Toll Plaza on the Motorway and recovered 15kg heroin from his vehicle.
The FIR was lodged under Section 9 (C) of Control of Narcotic Substances Act 1997, which carries death penalty or life imprisonment or a jail-term that might extend to 14 years along with a fine up to Rs1m.
Some other provisions of the Act and the PPC were also added to the FIR to charge the accused for attacking the personnel of the ANF and obstructing them from performing their official duty.
In its challan, the ANF said Rana Sana had confessed to selling narcotics in and outside the country.
Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2019