• FIA books ex-CM for money laundering after relief in recruitment case
• Islamabad court denies pre-arrest bail to Qureshi, Umar, Qaiser

LAHORE / ISLAMABAD: While PTI President Parvez Elahi secured relief from an anti-corruption court in Lahore, his senior colleagues — Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Asad Umar, and Asad Qaiser — were not as fortunate as a sessions court in Islamabad refused to grant them pre-arrest bail in cases registered against them in connection with the violence on May 9.

However, Mr Elahi could not be released from jail as orders for his release were not delivered to the prison administration on Tuesday. In anticipation of his release, a team of the Federal Investigation Agency had stationed itself outside the jail with an armoured vehicle to detain him in a money laundering case which was registered soon after he was granted bail.

But it returned empty-handed after Mr Elahi could not be released. The FIA accused Mr Elahi of money laundering through a front man and booked him along with his son Moonis Elahi and three others.

PTI condemned the case against Mr Elahi and said it “has been a set pattern of this fascist government to re-arrest its leaders once they get bail in any case”.

During the hearing, Judge Ali Raza directed Mr Elahi to furnish surety bonds of Rs1 million and observed that bail would be subject to the final decision of an application of the prosecution pending before the Lahore High Court for vacating a stay against a sessions court’s order that allowed the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) to seek Mr Elahi’s remand.

On June 12, the sessions court set aside a decision of a judicial magistrate pertaining to the rejection of the physical remand of Mr Elahi to the ACE and acquittal in the case of the illegal appointments. However, Mr Elahi moved the Lahore High Court and got the order suspended. The high court is set to hear the matter on June 27.

Discussing the merits of the case, Judge Ali Raza noted that the appointments in question were made in 2021 and there was an inordinate delay of over two years in reporting the matter to the ACE. He said the petitioner was never associated with the inquiry and the proceedings were ex-parte.

The judge observed that a large number of posts were advertised and the successful candidates were recruited as recommended by the departmental selection committee. However, he said, only 12 cases had been unearthed with the alleged forgery in the results declared by a private testing service.

The judge said the ACE officials of the testing service were also booked in the case but never arrested or investigated.

He also observed that the false implication of the petitioner due to “ulterior motives and political grudge cannot be ruled out under the current political scenario” and said the detention served no purpose.

No relief in Islamabad

PTI Vice Chairman Qureshi and former secretary general Asad Umar rushed toward their vehicle after the judge rejected their pleas for pre-arrest bail in multiple cases registered after May 9. PTI leader Asad Qaiser’s plea was rejected as well.

ADSJ Tahir Abbas Sipra dismissed five bail applications moved by Mr Qaiser and three each by Mr Qureshi and Asad Umar. The cases were based on FIRs registered at various police stations which accused them of incitement.

During the hearing, the PTI counsel argued that the party leaders have been falsely implicated in the cases and sought bail till the adjudication of the cases by a trial court.

He noted that on May 9 nationwide protests were observed which turned violent and “even the law enforcement agencies and the armed forces and their installations were attacked in a very pre-planned manner”.

The judge observed, “It was not a sudden provocation and a proper investigation can lead to the conclusion that how this occurrence was planned.”

As per the judgement, the tweets and social media posts of PTI leaders added fuel to the fire and they were not entitled to “extraordinary relief of bail”. The bail at this stage will hamper the process of investigation, it ruled.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2023

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