KARACHI: The Sindh High Court dismissed on Tuesday a petition seeking post-arrest bail for veteran leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, in a case pertaining to accumulation of assets beyond known sources of income.
A two-member bench, comprising justices Shamsuddin Abbasi and Amjad Ali Sahito, passed this order on a second constitutional petition filed by Mr Shah seeking grant of bail after arrest, after the SHC’s Sukkur bench had dismissed a similar plea.
At the outset, the bench said that without prejudice to its earlier order of bail plea dismissal, they were taking into account the fresh grounds of hardship and delay in the trial mainly pressed and agitated before it by the petitioner.
In order to determine whether the petitioner could be released on bail on statutory grounds, the bench perused the case diaries, which revealed that the charge could not be framed for one reason or the other, such as absence of one accused or the other, who were on bail; non-production of custody of the petitioner, filing of miscellaneous applications from both sides and initiating proceedings under sections 512, 87 and 88 of the criminal procedure code against the absconding accused, Syed Junaid Qadir Shah, a nephew of the petitioner, who had remained absconder since the filing of the reference till framing of the charge.
Asks lower court to conclude trial quickly
The judges further noted that there were 17 other accused, nominated in the reference, who were alleged to be close relatives/benamidar and frontmen of the petitioner.
The NAB special prosecutor drew the bench’s attention towards the orders dated June 29 and July 7 passed on two constitutional petitions filed by Syed Tahir Hussain Shah and Mohammad Ali Shah before the SHC’s Sukkur bench, challenging the notification of declaring the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) Sukkur as sub-jail and constitution of a special medical board to determine the ailment of the petitioner, stating that he was enjoying normal life in the hospital and running his affairs as well as conducting meetings with government officials.
The bench said that in terms of the same order, reports/replies were sought from the NICVD Sukkur and on filing the same, the court had shown its dissatisfaction over such reports and had held them as fake, and made three specific queries from the director general of NAB Sukkur, the chief secretary and Dr Nadeem Qamar of the NICVD.
The bench said that while those petitions were pending adjudication, and the questions asked from the authorities concerned were yet to be decided, therefore, “we would consciously refrain ourselves from giving any observations on such queries”.
The bench said: “It is, however, surprising to note that a person who is enjoying all possible facilities in the hospital since his judicial remand (09.11.2019) has not urged any ground of ill-health suffering from any life threatening disease and he is enjoying normal life in NICVD Sukkur, which has been declared as Sub-jail by the Government perhaps owing to his political influence.”
It further stated: “In the mentioned circumstances, how we can consider the case of petitioner on the ground of hardship like any other case wherein the accused is rotten in jail and facing real hardship inside prison more particularly when petitioner did not remain inside the jail for a single day which question mark over our system that how a person can take undue advantage owing to his political influence.”
The judges observed that the concept of criminal misconduct which led to corruption had been defined in the case of Abdul Sattar and another versus state.
“Even otherwise the apex court in recent past has imposed special duty upon the Courts to perform their duties actively, diligently to eliminate corruption and corrupt practices,” they added.
“It is high time that the standards are set and system put in place to develop a culture of accountability at all levels in order to cleanse over system and institutions from the evil of corruption, loot and plunder of national resources by a few irrespective of their status in the system.”
The bench said: “At this juncture we are of the considered view that the petitioner has not been able to make out a case for grant of bail on the ground of hardship.”
They said: “As to the delay in the trial is concerned, suffice it to say that from the facts and circumstances of the case, discussed herein above, the delay is attributed to the petitioner and other co-accused, who are close relatives/benamidars and front men of the petitioner, therefore, on this score also the petitioner is not entitled to the grant of post-arrest bail.”
Therefore, the bench dismissed the petition.
Speedy trial ordered
However, the bench said that taking into account the right of the accused to fair and speedy trial, the trial court was directed to expedite the case without allowing any adjournment on any flimsy ground and complete it as quickly as possible, preferably within six months under intimation to the SHC through its Member Inspection Team-II.
The bench made it clear that the trial court shall not be influenced by the observations made in this order and shall decide the case purely on merit and material made available to it without causing prejudice to either side.
It directed the office to immediately communicate this order to the accountability court concerned for information and compliance.
Sherry Rehman’s tweet
Senator and PPP vice president Sherry Rahman in a tweet questioned the denial of bail to the PPP leader. “When everyone has the right to bail, why is this injustice done to Khursheed Shah?” she said. “Why is there a separate law for Syed Khursheed Shah?”
Published in Dawn, July 28th , 2021