LAHORE: An accountability court on Friday allowed permanent exemption from personal appearance to PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, till further orders, in proceedings of the Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme cases.
Presiding judge Amjad Nazir Chaudhry announced a verdict reserved on last hearing on an application moved by Shahbaz’s lawyer seeking a permanent exemption from personal appearance till conclusion of the trial proceedings.
The counsel, Amjad Pervez, had argued that his client was in London to take care his ailing brother, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. He said Mr Shahbaz also had appointments with his doctors in London as he was a cancer survivor.
He pointed out that the Lahore High Court had allowed both brothers to travel abroad on medical grounds. He also presented medical reports of Mr Shahbaz before the court.
The counsel had argued that the trial proceedings could be held even in the absence of Mr Shahbaz as a pleader will represent him under the law. He said his client could come before the trial concluded if doctors declared that his health condition was out of danger. He also pointed out that Mr Shahbaz had previously visited abroad and returned to the country.
He also presented documents attested by Pakistan High Commission in London to appoint one Chaudhry Muhammad Nawaz as pleader of Shahbaz Sharif.
NAB’s special prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua had opposed the application saying such an application could be allowed if the suspect himself appeared before the court. He said the suspect was now out of the territorial jurisdiction of the court.
The judge allowed the application of Mr Shahbaz and directed his pleader to ensure his appearance on each next hearing. Further hearing was adjourned till Jan 31.
Leader of opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz was brought to the court from jail to attend hearing of the Ramzan Sugar Mills and illegal assets/money laundering cases.
Meanwhile, another accountability court sought reply from the NAB on an objections filed by Mr Shahbaz and his sons— Hamza and Salman—against freezing of their assets.
The court had previously allowed an application by the NAB to freeze assets of Shahbaz’s family giving 14-day time to the aggrieved party to challenge the decision. The bureau had sought freezing of their assets following an inquiry of money laundering.
An accountability court also extended exemption from personal appearance to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, on medical grounds, in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case till Jan 31.
Advocate Amjad Pervez furnished before the court fresh medical reports of Mr Sharif and said his client was still under treatment in London and doctors had not so far permitted him air travel.
Presiding judge Ameer Muhammad Khan extended the exemption to Mr Sharif till next hearing.
Another suspect, Yousaf Abbas, was brought to the court from jail to attend the proceedings while PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, who was on bail, had already been exempted by the court from personal appearance till the filing of the reference by the NAB.
Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2020