LHC announces verdict in Hamza Shahbaz bail plea

LHC announces verdict in Hamza Shahbaz bail plea
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LAHORE - A Lahore High Court (LHC) division bench on Monday granted interim bail to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hamza Shehbaz in assets beyond means case till April 17.

The court directed Hamza Shehbaz to submit surety bonds of Rs 10 million for availing the relief of interim bail.

The bench comprising Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan and Justice Mirza Viqas Rauf passed the orders while hearing a pre-arrest bail petition filed by Hamza Shehbaz.

At the outset of the proceedings, Hamza Shehbaz along with his counsel appeared before the court, besides the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecution team.

To a court's query, the NAB prosecutor submitted that there were three cases, including assets beyond means, Saaf Pani and Ramzan Sugar Mills, against the petitioner but the Bureau wanted to arrest him in the assets beyond means case, whereas no arrest warrants had been issued in other two cases as yet.

Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar argued on behalf of Hamza Shehbaz that his client approached the LHC on November 1, 2018 for bail but his petition was disposed of after the Bureau told the court that it did not want to arrest Hamza as yet. However, the bench ordered the Bureau to inform the petitioner at least 10 days before his arrest, if it wanted to arrest him in future so that he could approach the court for remedy, he added.

He submitted that the Bureau violated the court directions and raided his client's house for arrest but the same could not happen due to protest of PML-N party workers.

He submitted that all allegations against his client were mala fide and requested the court for the relief of bail.

But, the NAB prosecutor argued that the Bureau was not bound to inform the petitioner in advance, as per a Supreme Court judgement and all the steps were taken by the Bureau in accordance with the law.

He alleged that the Bureau had detected an illegal transaction of Rs 3 billion in Hamza Shehbaz's account and it was feared that if he was granted bail then the witnesses would be threatened and record could be tempered. He pleaded with the court to dismiss the bail request.

However, the bench after hearing the initial arguments granted interim bail to Hamza Shehbaz till April 17 and sought reply and para wise comments from the Bureau till next date of hearing.

A large number of PML-N workers were also present to show their support for Hamza, whereas strict security arrangements were made on the occasion.

It is pertinent to mention here that LHC Chief Justice Sardar Muhammad Shamim Khan granted a two-day protective bail to Hamza Shahbaz on Saturday to enable him to approach the bench concerned for hearing of his bail petition.

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