ISLAMABAD: Chief Executive of the Jang Group of Newspapers Mir Shakeelur Rehman approached the Supreme Court on Thursday to seek release on post-arrest bail.
The media tycoon, who has been under detention for months, filed an appeal against the July 8 Lahore High Court (LHC) order of rejecting his bail plea through his counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed.
The appeal pleads that denial of bail to the petitioner amounts to gross misreading of the facts and the record and misconception of the applicable laws.
The director general of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Lahore, and assistant director/investigation officer Mohammad Abid Hussain have been named respondents in the appeal.
The petition argues that the re-opening of a 34-year-old matter relating to exemption of plots (violation of rules in purchase of 54 kanals of land) about which neither the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) nor any other authority or previous owner of the land has raised any grievance inevitably involves consideration extraneous to law.
Appeal questions motives for his arrest, highlights diseases he is suffering from
“The factum of ingrained mala fides involved in the initiation and continuance of proceedings against the petitioner under the NAO, 1999 … can be well gauged by the manner in which the Chairman NAB at Islamabad and the officials of NAB in Lahore acted at tandem with each other on March 12, 2020 to bring about the arrest of the petitioner,” the petition pleads.
On March 12, Mr Rehman was called to the NAB office in Lahore for submitting his answers to a questionnaire attached with a call-up notice and subsequently arrested.
The petition alleges that each and every allegation forming the basis of grounds of arrest is maliciously false and concocted and the arrest of the petitioner has been made by NAB with ulterior motives and for reasons extraneous to law.
After his arrest, the petitioner was produced before the accountability court in Lahore the next day and remanded to physical custody of NAB from time to time for 45 days, and ultimately to judicial custody under an order issued on April 28.
Soon after his arrest, the petitioner and his wife filed two separate petitions challenging the arrest and the remand orders, but both petitions were dismissed, as “meritless and premature”, by the high court on April 7, the petition recalls.
Meanwhile, NAB filed a reference against the petitioner and three co-accused, namely Nawaz Sharif, who was chief minister of Punjab and chairman of the LDA in 1986, Hamayon Faiz Rasool, the then director general of the LDA, and Mian Bashir Ahmad, the then director, land development, LDA.
The petition contends that the high court erred in law by failing to see that the series of actions of the respondents demonstrates that they were led by ulterior motives of intimidating and demoralising the petitioner and thus making him an example for the entire media industry to keep others in line, instead of a bona fide exercise of carefully examining a complaint, seeking answers and then deciding to convert it into inquiry and so on.
The high court also erred by not realising the fact that the illegal arrest and continued intimidation of the petitioner by the respondents have enabled the respondents to achieve their real objective of depriving the sovereign people of Pakistan [of] rights enshrined in Articles 19 and 19A of the Constitution by harassing and intimidating the entire media of Pakistan, with all news channels now avoiding criticism of the respondents’ pathetic performance, the appeal argues.
It says that the petitioner is suffering from tinnitus, sleep apnea, breathing disorder, hyperventilation and acute anxiety. His recent medical tests have revealed a growth in his kidney, two cysts in prostate, and blood in urine. While in judicial custody, the doctors who checked him expressed suspicion of malignancy. Besides, two of his siblings, a brother and a sister, have died from cancer while the petitioner was in continuous incarceration.
Since Mr Rehman has been in incarceration for the last six months, the ailments from which he is suffering have further aggravated and his overall condition has deteriorated, the petition regrets.
Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2020