–Accountability watchdog withdraws plea against ex-Punjab CM’s bail after SC finds no ‘major mistake’ of Shehbaz in scam
ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday took back its petition in the Supreme Court (SC) challenging the bail granted to former Punjab chief minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif in the Ashiana Iqbal housing scam case.
Hearing the case, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa remarked that bail cannot be suspended in prima facie case. He added that some of the accused had spent several years in jail due to lack of progress in the Ashiana case.
NAB’s lawyer Naeem Bokhari told the court that Fawad Hasan Fawad, the former principal secretary to ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, had allegedly taken money for the suspension of the agreement with Chaudhry Latif and Sons.
The CJP asked Bokhari who had forwarded the matter to the anti-corruption department to which the lawyer replied that Shehbaz Sharif had sent the matter to the department in order to pressurise Chaudhry Latif and Sons to withdraw from the contract. He added that the case was primarily focused on administrative irregularities that emerged in the report of the inquiry committee.
Bokhari said that the former Punjab CM had constituted a committee under the supervision of the then finance secretary which declared the contract in line with the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PEPRA) laws. However, Fawad Hasan Fawad allegedly pressurised the administration of Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) to suspend the agreement with Chaudhry Latif and Sons in favour of the second bidder, Kamran Kayani after receiving Rs550 million in bribe.
CJP Khosa asked the NAB lawyer whether the new contract was handed over to Kayani or not to which Bokhari said that the second agreement had not been handed over to the second bidder.
“Did Kamran Kayani demand the return of Rs550m from Fawad Hasan Fawad?” questioned CJP. “No, Kayani has absconded from Pakistan and Shehbaz Sharif is also not present in the country,” Bokhari said.
The NAB lawyer told the court that the pleas of two approvers had been approved while the bureau had rejected similar pleas by two other accused. to this, the CJP said that an accused will have to confess his crime before becoming an approver in a case.
Chief Justice Khosa said that the prosecution did not mention any major mistake of Shehbaz Sharif except pointing out a meeting which had been held at his residence.
“If the chief minister was head of the institutions then what’s the issue if he had summoned a meeting. The prosecution represented Shehbaz as an outsider who had summoned the meeting,” he added.
“In this story, it seems that Shehbaz Sharif’s role is of a ‘good kid’ who initiated an investigation into this matter and later forwarded it to the anti-corruption department. On the other hand, the character of Fawad Hasan Fawad is like a ‘bad kid’ in this story,” the CJP said.
Following the CJP’s observation, NAB announced that it was withdrawing its petition against the suspension of bail to Shehbaz Sharif.