KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Monday issued notices to National Accountability Bureau and lawyers for Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani and other suspects over the apex court’s remanding back their bail in NAB references for fresh hearing.
A two-judge bench headed by Justice Nadeem Akhtar directed NAB and counsel for the suspects to come fully prepared on Sept 20 since the matter would be heard on day-to-day basis from next hearing.
It also directed lawyers to produce medical reports in next hearing after they contended that two of the suspects could not appear as they were suffering from Covid-19.
In December 2019 a division bench of SHC had granted post-arrest bail to speaker of the provincial assembly and in February 2020 it had also confirmed pre-arrest bail of some other suspects in the same reference.
The anti-graft watchdog had challenged both judgments of the SHC before the Supreme Court and in March the apex court had set aside both the orders and remanded the matter back to the SHC with direction to carry out fresh hearing and give decision on the bail on the basis of merit. However, the apex court ruled that in the meantime the suspects would remain on bail.
The apex court had observed that the bail petitions in NAB references should be heard and decided by senior division benches of the SHC and directed to decide the matter in question within two months.
The apex court ruled that the SHC bench had failed to apply its judicial mind to the applicable criteria and relevant material thereby committing a serious error.
The Supreme Court further said that there were two criteria, if there were no reasonable grounds for believing that the suspect had committed a non-bailable offence and secondly if there were sufficient grounds for further inquiry into the guilt, but instead of addressing such considerations, the SHC bench had focused wholly on the alleged procedural and legal lapses committed by NAB in the “defective and perfunctory investigation” carried out against Siraj Durrani.
NAB had arrested the provincial assembly speaker in Feb 2019 in a hotel in Islamabad for investigation and a few months later filed a reference against him, his brother Agha Masihuddin Khan and other family members, including his wife, sons and daughters, as well as 13 others before an accountability court in Karachi for allegedly accumulating assets worth over Rs1.61 billion through illegal means.
May 12 mayhem case
Another division bench of SHC on Monday directed police to file report about the reported death of a petitioner who had approached the SHC in 2007 seeking judicial inquiry into May 12 mayhem.
The bench headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro directed the SHOs of Sharea Faisal and Quaidabad to file report on Oct 4 as there was no information available on record about the petitioner’s death after an additional prosecutor general informed it that the petitioner Iqbal Kazmi had passed away.
In September 2018, while disposing of a suo motu reference and a petition pending before the SHC for the last 11 years about May 12 mayhem, the SHC had ordered the Sindh government to constitute joint investigation teams (JIT) to trace out the persons involved in the cases in which police had filed A-class (unknown or untraceable accused) reports and to further investigate all the other cases pertaining to the ugly incidents that took place on May 12, 2007.
It had also directed the provincial government to establish a tribunal of inquiry within two weeks to probe the May 12 violence and sought details of the compensation paid to victims or their legal heirs.
Later, the provincial authorities informed the SHC through a compliance report that a JIT headed by an additional inspector general of Sindh police had been notified while the SHC registrar had been requested that the chief justice nominate a person for appointment as head of the tribunal of inquiry.
Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2021