KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Thursday granted interim pre-arrest bail to provincial Transport Minister Syed Awais Qadir Shah till Oct 16 after he moved the court against his possible arrest by the National Accountability Bureau.
A day after NAB arrested Pakistan Peoples Party leader Syed Khursheed Shah for amassing assets beyond his known sources of income, the Sindh transport minister through his lawyer moved the SHC and contended that NAB Sukkur had been conducting an inquiry against the petitioner and his family.
The minister said he had not received a call-up notice, but argued that NAB authorities had sent a letter to the chief commissioner, Regional Tax Office, Sukkur, to know about his assents.
The petitioner further contended that he had no illegal assets and was ready to cooperate with investigators.
However, he expressed the apprehension that NAB might arrest him in the manner in which Khursheed Shah was apprehended, and pleaded for pre-arrest bail.
After a preliminary hearing, a two-judge bench of the SHC headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh granted interim pre-arrest bail to the petitioner subject to a solvent surety of Rs0.5 million till Oct 16.
The bench asked the petitioner to join the investigation and issued notices to the NAB special prosecutor for next hearing.
Death sentence set aside
Another division bench of the SHC on Thursday set aside the death sentence awarded to two men in a kidnapping and murder case.
An antiterrorism court had sentenced Naseer Ahmed Butt and Abu Bakar to death in August 2013 after holding them accountable for abducting 17-year-old Syed Ahmed Bilal for ransom and murdering him in the Defence Housing Authority in July 2011.
The convicts had challenged the capital punishment before the SHC and after hearing both sides and examining the record and proceedings of the case, a two-judge bench of the SHC headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha allowed the appeals and set aside the verdict of the trial court.
The bench in its order observed that there was no eyewitness to the murder and it was a case of circumstantial evidence which did not fully meet the requirements to enable a conviction since the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and the appellants were entitled to getting benefit of doubt.
It further observed that there was no evidence of abduction or ransom being demanded or even a motive for it, adding that the allegation against Naseer was that he led the police to recover the wallet of the deceased.
Once the body of deceased had been found, it cannot be ruled out that the wallet was in his clothes and the recovery was foisted on the appellant while police in cross-examination admitted that they had searched the plot in question before the arrest of the accused but could not find the wallet, it added.
The court order said that as per the prosecution, Abu Bakar led the police to recover the body of the deceased on a plot in the DHA, but added that the plot did not belong to the accused and people used to pass by it daily and the possibility could not be ruled out that the police already knew about the body.
Even if the recovery on a lead reportedly provided by the accused was accepted, the case of the prosecution lacked any other cogent and corroborative evidence and it must be unsafe to convict the accused, it concluded.
Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2019