ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal approached the Supreme Court on Friday with a request to annul the Lahore High Court’s Feb 6 order granting post-arrest bail to Hamza Shahbaz, Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly.
The petition seeking leave to appeal against the Feb 6 LHC order argued that the high court had not appreciated the evidence available on record and thus resulted in grave miscarriage of injustice and also prejudiced the case of the prosecution.
Hamza Shahbaz, the PML-N leader, is facing a corruption reference for allegedly misusing a grant of Rs360 million released by the Punjab government in 2015 for launching a drainage scheme for the localities in Chiniot district. But the public grant was allegedly misused and instead a 9-10km-long waste water course for M/s Ramzan Sugar Mills Ltd was constructed by fraudulently showing for the drainage scheme. Ramzan Sugar Mills, according to the appeal, belonged to Hamza Shahbaz.
NAB accused former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif of abusing his authority by ordering the provision of illegal pecuniary advantage to Ramzan Sugar Mills.
In the appeal, NAB alleged that Hamza Shahbaz had miserably failed to establish that his involvement in the reference called for further probe rather he was fully implicated in the commission of offence by the evidence on record and prima facie he was connected.
But, it added, the high court overlooked the vital aspect of the case which prima facie emphatically established the alleged involvement of Hamza Shahbaz in the offence. Therefore, the high court order was not tenable in the eyes of the law and is liable to be dismissed this score alone, the appeal argued.
The appeal contended that the order was also not tenable under the law because despite considering the tentative assessment of all the incriminating material on record, the high court came to the conclusion that there were no reasonable grounds for believing that the accused had committed a cognizable and non-bailable offence.
“Thus exceptional circumstances were taken into consideration by the bench while accepting the writ petition and granting post-arrest bail,” the appeal said, adding that the high court had passed the bail-granting order while going into deeper appreciation of evidence by holding a detailed inquiry into the merits of the case in exercise of its constitutional jurisdiction especially which had caused prejudice to the case of the prosecution, trial of which was pending in the court of competent jurisdiction.
“It is a settled law that courts when seized of bail matters are not allowed to settle the prosecution case to avert or interrupt the normal course of criminal procedure and cannot substitute its own appraisement of evidence for that of the trial courts.
Thus seeking suspension of arrest by filing writ petition is not permissible since such a remedy can only be granted when there is no adequate efficacy. Therefore, the writ petition before the high court was not maintainable,” the appeal argued.
Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2020