LAHORE: A Lahore High Court division bench on Tuesday asked the counsel for Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz to explain as to how the petition of his client seeking post-arrest bail on the basis of coronavirus threat was maintainable since the Supreme Court had already suspended release of prisoners on a similar ground.

Advocate Amjad Pervez was persuading the bench to release the petitioner on bail for being vulnerable to the pandemic in the jail when its head Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem questioned the competency of the petition.

The judge observed that the Supreme Court recently suspended decisions by all high courts regarding release of the prisoners in certain categories to avoid spread of Covid-19 pandemic in jails of the country.

“Tell us how this [Mr Hamza’s] petition is maintainable after the decision of Supreme Court,” the judge asked the counsel.

The lawyer sought adjournment, saying he would be able to assist the bench on the point after going through the decision passed by the apex court.

At this, the bench adjourned the hearing till April 7.

Mr Hamza had moved second petition for post-arrest bail in illegal assets/money laundering case on a fresh ground of being vulnerable to pandemic being in prison.

Last month, the LHC had denied him bail in this case on merits. However, the court had granted relief of bail to Mr Hamza in another case of Ramzan Sugar Mills.

The new petition refers to the media reports about confirmed cases of Covid-19 surfacing in some prisons of the province. It pleads that the petitioner being in the jail is highly vulnerable to the pandemic.

It says the LHC chief justice also issued an administrative order for filing of bail petitions on behalf of the prisoners and their decisions on priority in view of the growing cases of coronavirus.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2020