LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday denied post-arrest bail to Jang Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakilur Rehman in a 34-year-old case about some land allegedly allotted to him in violation of rules by the then Punjab chief minister Nawaz Sharif.
A two-judge bench comprising Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem and Justice Farooq Haider dismissed the bail petition of Mr Rehman after hearing lengthy arguments from both sides – petitioner and prosecution – during a crowded hearing attended by politicians and senior lawyers.
PML-N MNA Rana Sanaullah Khan, Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Abid Saqi, its Executive Committee Chairman Azam Nazir Tarar, member Ahsan Bhoon and Supreme Court Bar Association President Syed Qalb-i-Hassan were present in the court.
Resuming his arguments, Mr Rehman’s counsel Amjad Pervez submitted that the investigation against the petitioner had been completed and nothing recovered from him. The exemption of 54-kanal land was granted to the petitioner in accordance with the law and Lahore Development Authority (LDA) had no objection to it.
He said the petitioner was not a public office holder and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman was not the competent authority to initiate legal proceedings against him. He pointed out that the charge of abetment in an offence was not incorporated in the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 as it was inserted later through an amendment without retrospective effect. Therefore, he said, the provision relating to abetment of an offence could not be applied to the petitioner.
The counsel argued that the high court had ruled in PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz’s case that the charge of abetment could not be considered retrospectively unless parliament had mentioned it clearly.
Advocate Pervez said the case of the petitioner was unprecedented as he had never experienced in his 20-year career that a person had been arrested at the complaint verification stage by the NAB.
On the other hand, NAB Special Prosecutor Faisal Raza Bokhari argued that the inquiry against the petitioner was approved on March 12 and he was arrested the same day. He said the petitioner never sought LDA permission for interim development.
He argued that the petitioner, under the exemption policy, was eligible for allotment of 54-kanal land, but more than 56 kanals were allotted to him. He said the then LDA director general Humayun Faiz Rasool had recommended special concession to the petitioner on an application for exemption on July 3, 1986. He asked the bench to dismiss the bail petition.
After hearing the arguments from both sides, the bench dismissed the petition.
Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2020