LAHORE: An accountability court has been asked to discharge its proceedings against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a reference of illegal allotment of plots to Jang group editor-in-chief Mir Shakilur Rehman under new amendments made to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO)1999.

Yousaf Abbas, a nephew of Sharif, and others filed an application before the court saying it lacked jurisdiction to proceed with the case further as per the latest amendment to section 5 of the NAO.

The applicants, through their counsel Qazi Misbahaul Haq, stated the bureau, after the amendment, could not prosecute an alleged offence involving money less than Rs500 million.

They said the amount of the alleged offence was Rs143m in the reference in question, which did not fall in the NAB jurisdiction.

They contended that the trial court had already acquitted Rehman and two other accused persons, including former officers of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), in the reference of 34-year-old “illegal” land allotment.

The applicants said the court declared Sharif a proclaimed offender and also ordered auction of his properties. They pleaded that the court order was not sustainable after the new amendment to the relevant law.

They asked the court to withdraw its order and return the reference to the NAB chairman for further action.

The applicants had already challenged the auction of the properties supposedly owned by Sharif.

They also claimed ownership of the assets ordered to be auctioned by the court. They said the assets had been transferred to them being lawful legal heirs of the owners.

The NAB alleged that Rehman illegally obtained exemption of 54 plots, each measuring one kanal, situated in Block-H, Johar Town.

It said the land allotment had been made in connivance with then Punjab chief minister Nawaz Sharif against the exemption policy and the laws for monetary gains. It alleged the accused caused a loss of Rs143m to national exchequer through the land allotment in violation of exemption policy.

PTI REACTION: Adviser to Punjab Chief Minister on Information Omar Sarfraz Cheema, in a statement, said the ‘imported team’ running the federal government arbitrarily amended the NAB law after coming to power to save the skin of Nawaz Sharif and Ishaq Dar.

He said requests for relief to them (Nawaz and Dar) was a testimony to that effect.

Cheema said the nation was witnessing the brazen theft being committed by the PDM group and their cronies.

He said ‘Shahbaz-Zardari’ government could amend the laws as they wanted but they would nevertheless be held accountable in the end.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2022

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