Shahbaz moves LHC for pre-arrest bail in assets case

LAHORE: Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif on Monday approached the Lahore High Court for pre-arrest bail with an apprehension of his arrest by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in an investigation of assets beyond means against him.

A two-judge bench comprising Justice Muhammad Tariq Abbasi and Justice Farooq Haider is likely to hear the bail petition on Tuesday (today) when Shahbaz is also required to appear before a combine investigation team (CIT) of the NAB.

“The inquiry on the so-called allegations of assets beyond means was authorised in an unlawful and illegal manner as the right to hold and enjoy property is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution,” said the petition filed through lawyers Azam Nazir Tarar and Amjad Pervaiz.

It said an inquiry into an offence in question was permissible only and when an asset was found to be disproportionate to one’s known sources of income and the holder of the asset failed to account for the same after an adequate opportunity for explanation.ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER AD

However, in the instant case, the petition claimed that nothing was available for forming an opinion required by the National Accountability Ordinance 1999.

It stated that the petitioner was arrested on Oct 5, 2018, in other cases (Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme) and was in custody of the NAB when the impugned inquiry into assets was authorised on Oct 23.

It said the petitioner was thoroughly investigated regarding all his assets and the officials of the respondent bureau could not confront him with any evidence to suggest any nexus of misuse or abuse of office with the amassing of any assets.

It stated that Mr Shahbaz extended full cooperation and furnished whatever information was required by the bureau and his intended arrest at this stage was nothing but sheer mala fide.

“Any move to arrest the petitioner at this juncture smacks volumes of mala fide on part of the prosecution,” added the petition.

It further pleaded that the petitioner had been regularly declaring his assets in due course before the authorities concerned. It also questioned implication of Section 3 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010 in the impugned investigation.

“The provisions of NAO 1999 and AMLA 2010 cannot be applied simultaneously,” argued the petition.

Mr Shahbaz stated in the petition that he being 69-year old and a cancer survivor had been advised restricted movement and limited exposure due to life threatening risks on account of Covid-19 pandemic.

Referred to statements by various federal ministers about his likely arrest in near future, the leader of opposition said he had reasonable apprehension of his arrest at this stage on account of past experience.

He asked the court to grant him interim bail till a final decision of the petition.