ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the counsel for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hamza Shehbaz to file a plea in the Lahore High Court to seek bail for his client.

The apex court remanded the matter back to the high court with an observation that the Supreme Court could not intervene on issues which had not been discussed in the high court and, therefore, it would only be appropriate if his client approached the high court again and raise the issue of hardship.

Headed by Justice Mushir Alam, a three-judge Supreme Court bench took up an application for grant of bail to Hamza Shehbaz which the latter had filed on April 25, 2020.

At the outset of the proceedings, the Supreme Court inquired from Hamza Shehbaz’s counsel Advocate Amjad Pervez whether he wanted to pursue the matter on merit or on the basis of hardship.

In response, the counsel explained that he had raised the bail plea on the basis of hardship since his client had been behind bars for the last 19 months.

PML-N MPA’s lawyer cites hardship as basis for his client’s decision to move SC

He, however, hastened to add that the issue of hardship had never been raised in the high court since this ground was not applicable then as his client had been arrested quite recently and no reference had been filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the accountability court against him.

Moreover, he said, despite claims of causing a loss of Rs7 billion to the exchequer, the NAB reference had only accused his client of causing Rs530 million loss.

Hamza Shehbaz is facing a case relating to money laundering and assets beyond means. He was arrested on June 11, 2019, and is still behind bars.

His application stated that the case against Hamza Shehbaz filed by NAB comprised voluminous record and it proposed 110 prosecution witnesses of which testimonies of three witnesses had been recorded so far.

Hamza Shehbaz had been behind bars for the last 19 months, the application said, adding that his petition for grant of bail pending trial was always a matter that required urgent hearing since it involved his fundamental rights to life, liberty, reputation and fair trial.

In his petition, Hamza Shehbaz also pleaded that he had been made a target of political victimisation by anti-democratic rival political groups, adding that allegations of money laundering and possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income were all frivolous.

The petition further contended that continued incarceration of the petitioner was merely a harassment tactic.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2021

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