LAHORE: A special court for control of narcotic substance (CNS) on Saturday allowed one-time exemption from personal appearance to PML-N MNA Rana Sanaullah Khan in a 15-kg drug recovery case.

A lawyer filed an application before the court on behalf of Mr Khan and pleaded that his client could not appear due to the risk of coronavirus, seeking one-time exemption for Mr Khan from personal appearance.

Presiding Judge Shakir Hassan accepted the application of the PML-N leader and other suspects, adjourning the hearing till April 25, seeking arguments on an application filed by the defence for provision of copies of the witnesses’ statements by the prosecution.

On previous hearing, the court was scheduled to frame charges against the suspects. However, the indictment was delayed due to the application moved by the defence. It complains that the prosecution did not provide the suspects with copies of the witnesses’ statements.

The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) opposed the application, saying the defence was trying to delay the proceedings. It said all details would be available on record once the charges were framed.

The judge, however, decided to decide the application first and sought arguments from both sides.

The ANF had arrested Khan on July 1, 2019 and claimed to have recovered 15-kg heroin from his vehicle. The FIR was lodged under section 9 (C) of Control of Narcotic Substances Act 1997.

The former law minister was twice denied bail by the trial court, but the Lahore High Court released him on bail on Dec 24, 2019.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2020