An accountability court in Lahore on Saturday granted the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) a 14-day extension in the physical remand of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif in the Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme case.
The court, however, rejected NAB’s request for Shehbaz’s physical remand in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case. NAB arrested the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly in the sugar mills case today.
NAB had requested for a 15-day extension in Shehbaz’s physical remand in the housing scheme case and had also pleaded for his physical remand in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case.
Shehbaz, who has been in NAB’s custody since October 5 in connection to the Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme case, was flown from Islamabad to Lahore earlier today for his court appearance. The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly was presented before an accountability court as his transit remand ended today.
As the hearing went under way, Shehbaz’s counsel Amjad Pervaiz cited examples of various court judgments and opposed NAB’s request for an extension in Shehbaz’s remand.
“DG NAB Lahore Saleem Shahzad has become a party in Shehbaz’s case and has been giving interviews on different talks shows,” Pervaiz said.
Further, Shehbaz’s counsel said, “NAB summoned the PML-N president for the first time in June 2018. Shehbaz appeared before the accountability watchdog whenever he was summoned and cooperated in the investigations.”
“Till date, NAB has not been able to provide any solid evidence against Shehbaz in the Ashiana Housing scheme thus there is no reason to extend his remand,” the former Punjab chief minister’s counsel asserted.
Further, during the hearing, NAB prosecutor said, “We are arresting Shehbaz today on November 10 in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case.”
However, Shehbaz’s counsel said, “The new request that has been submitted in court has been filed on false grounds.”
“The law states that a man who has been arrested in one case will be considered arrested in other cases as well,” he added.
At this, the NAB prosecutor said, “The new case is different and we have evidence in the ongoing case.”
After hearing the arguments, the court reserved its judgment on NAB’s requests. However, later the court granted an extension to NAB in Shehbaz’s physical remand in Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme case but rejected the request for his physical remand in the sugar mills case.
Shehbaz will now be presented before an accountability court on November 24.
A large number of PML-N workers had gathered outside the court and security had been increased around the premises during the hearing.
On October 29, an accountability court had granted the PML-N president a three-day transit remand to attend National Assembly sessions. The leader of the opposition in NA was then flown to Islamabad and his Minister’s Enclave residence had been declared sub-jail.
An accountability court in Islamabad had on October 31 extended Shehbaz’s transit remand till November 6 and then till November 10.
NAB has accused Shehbaz of misusing his powers while being the chief minister of Punjab in an inquiry pertaining to Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC).
According to the anti-graft body, Shehbaz cancelled the contract awarded to M/s Ch A Latif & Sons for infrastructure development of Ashiana Iqbal Housing Project and awarded it to CASA Developers.
“The former Punjab chief minister misused his powers and his actions caused a huge loss to the national exchequer,” the NAB prosecutor had said.
However, Shehbaz denied the allegations as “false and baseless”.