ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court observed on Thursday that Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah, a leader of the Peoples Party, cannot plead for bail now on the ground cited since he did not make the same argument during hearings in the Sindh High Court.
But Makhdoom Ali Khan, representing Khurshid Shah, explained that his client did not file a bail application with the high court since the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had instituted the corruption reference against him just 23 days previously.
Now that Khurshid Shah has remained incarcerated for one year and nine months, this ground is available and can be raised before the Supreme Court, the counsel argued.
The Supreme Court had ruled in a number of judgements that it could take into account developments and the grounds which were not available when a case was filed, but became available with the passage of time, Makhdoom Ali Khan contended.
The observations and arguments came after a three-member bench, consisting of Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Amin-ud-Din Khan, took up Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah’s post-arrest bail plea.
The bench summoned his two wives and son Farrukh Shah in the case.
Makhdoom Ali Khan argued that the apex court in all such cases can always take into consideration “subsequent facts” and “changed circumstances” instead of requiring a party to go back to the high court and start proceedings afresh.
However, the bench observed that the Supreme Court had been consistently taking the view on bail matters, especially in cases brought by NAB, that the parties concerned should go back to the high court and file a fresh application for bail.
The counsel contended that the court had to do “complete justice” since going back to the Sindh High Court for bail meant the petitioner would remain in custody for months as the hearing could drag on indefinitely.
However, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood emphasised that the procedure had to be followed since this was the only procedure available.
Makhdoom Ali Khan sought time from the court to consult his client and find out whether he wanted to withdraw the application or persist with the matter.
The counsel contended that the corruption case against Khurshid Shah was based on conjecture, citing as evidence government documents like the registered sale deeds and notifications issued by the collectors of stamp duty.
The petitioner deserves relief as he has already been in custody for over 21 months during which NAB has examined only four witnesses, out of the 44 on its list, Makhdoom Ali Khan pleaded.
He argued that the main allegation against his client was that he purchased 574 acres of land in 2005, the price of which was Rs 179 million and that the accused did not have the means to pay such a huge amount.
But Khurshid Shah’s counsel stated that nine sale deeds on record showed the price was Rs6m. The notification issued by the collectors of stamp duty bears out this assessment, he added.
Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2021