LAHORE: A Lahore High Court full bench on Wednesday held its first hearing on post-arrest bail petition of Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif in a money laundering reference by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

At the outset of the hearing, Shehbaz’s counsel Azam Nazir Tarar said it was unfortunate that a division bench previously allowed the bail petition and later issued a split decision. He said the website of the LHC showed the result of the petition as allowed for three days and the fourth day there was a changed decision.

The counsel said he witnessed change in an announced decision for the first time in his 27 years of law practice.

Counsel asks court not to hear matter afresh

Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, who was heading the full bench, asked the counsel to learn a lesson from what happened that lawyers should not inform a client about the result of any case before getting an attested copy of the order.

Advocate Tarar asked the bench not to hear the matter afresh and decide it simply by going through the two orders of the judges of the division bench.

Justice Najafi observed that the bench needed to know the facts of the case to reach any decision.

The bench would resume hearing on Thursday (today) with the arguments of a NAB’s special prosecutor. Justice Alia Neelum and Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi were other members of the full bench.

Last week, the division bench comprising Justice Sardar Muhammad Sarfraz Dogar and Justice Asjad Javed Ghural issued a split decision on the petition of Shehbaz sending the matter to the chief justice for the nomination of a referee judge.

Justice Dogar, the head of the bench, had allowed the petition and Justice Ghural dismissed the same on merits. In his dissenting order, Justice Ghural also accused the senior judge of issuing the bail granting short order ‘unilaterally’.

REFERENCES:The duty judges of the accountability courts on Wednesday adjourned hearings of two references - Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme and Ramzan Sugar Mills - against Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, his son Hamza Shehbaz and others.

The jail officials produced Shehbaz before the courts while Hamza released on bail appeared on his own.

The duty judges simply adjourned the hearings for May 18 due to unavailability of the regular presiding judges of the trial courts.

SUGAR SCANDAL:A judicial magistrate on Wednesday directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to start proceedings to declare Suleman Shehbaz, son of Shehbaz Sharif, and three other employees of Ramzan and Al-Arabia Sugar Mills in a money laundering case registered in the light of the sugar inquiry report.

The investigating officer of the FIA told the magistrate that Suleman and other suspects had not joined the proceedings despite issuance of their non-bailable arrest warrants.

Magistrate Zulfiqar Bari directed the IO to start the process to declare the suspects absconder under section 87 of CrPC and submit a progress report on May 20. The other suspects include Maqsood Ahmad, Tahir Naqvi and Muzammil Raza.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2021

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