LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan on Monday constituted a full bench to decide afresh a post-arrest bail petition of Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif after a division bench gave a split decision on it.
Justice Ali Baqar Najafi would head the three-member full bench, with Justice Alia Neelum and Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi as its members. The bench is set to resume hearing on April 21.
Previously, the two judges of the division bench issued a split decision on Shehbaz’s post-arrest bail petition in a money laundering reference, sending the matter to the chief justice for the nomination of a referee judge.
Justice Sardar Mohammad Sarfraz Dogar, who headed the bench, allowed the petition, while its other member, Justice Asjad Javed Ghural, dismissed the same on merits.
In his dissenting order, Justice Ghural accused the senior judge of issuing the bail-granting short order ‘unilaterally’.
The dissenting judge conceded the prosecution story and observed that the assets acquired by the petitioner in the name of his family “through fake and forged TTs” in their bank accounts and of other benamidars, which were found disproportionate to his known income sources by the National Accountability Bureau, brought a bad name to the country.
“Suffice is to say that sufficient incriminating material is available on the record to connect the petitioner with the alleged offence and thus he is not entitled to the relief claimed for,” he observed.
Justice Dogar, who headed the bench, in his order stated, “A unanimous order regarding grant of bail was announced,” but when the short order for the petitioner’s release was placed before Justice Ghural for his signature, he disclosed that he intended to give his dissenting view.
“Therefore, we are rendering separate orders and after completion of the same, matter shall be placed before the chief justice for nomination of a referee judge,” said Justice Dogar.
The chief justice, however, constituted a three-judge full bench to decide the petition afresh.
Shehbaz was arrested on Sept 28, 2020, in the money laundering reference after the LHC refused to further extend his pre-arrest bail. He was first granted interim pre-arrest bail last year on June 3. After his arrest, he remained in the bureau’s custody for 23 days till the trial court sent him on judicial remand on Oct 20, 2020.
Previously, Shehbaz was also arrested by the NAB on Oct 5, 2018 in Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme case and later in Ramzan Sugar Mills case. The LHC had released him on bail in both cases on Feb 17, 2019.
Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2021