–Judgement says remand satisfies ‘judicial requirements’, NAB can probe decades-old case as NAO has retroactive effects
LAHORE: A day after dismissing the bail pleas of Jang Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakilur Rahman, the Lahore High Court (LHC) in a detailed judgement termed the petitions seeking post-arrest bail “meritless and premature”.
In its 13-page verdict, the division bench headed by Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem held that a perusal of the call-up notice and grounds of arrest reflected that inquiry was being conducted and examination and production of documents were necessary for the purpose.
The call-up notice could not be declared illegal, as neither did the petitioners challenge the contents of the notice nor did they point out any ambiguity in it. The bench noted that the accountability court granted the physical remand as per law after satisfying all judicial requirements.
The court also rejected the argument that it was a private transaction between parties and the bureau did not have the powers to investigate the same. “The argument has no force, as a transaction between the parties is not the dispute rather exemption of 54 plots along with two streets is the subject matter of the inquiry,” it added.
The bench also observed that the question of misinterpretation of exemption policy did not arise as it had been alleged that the petitioner, in connivance with holders of concerned public office, obtained a valuable property in violation of exemption policy, which prima facie, attracts offence under Section 9(a) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.
Furthermore, the available record suggests that the exemption policy was stretched in favour of the petitioner, it added. The bench held that although it was a 34-year old matter, the bureau had the powers to investigate the same as the ordinance had retroactive effects. The bench further observed that the matter was not regarding a business or business transaction, rejecting petitioners’ counsel stance that the bureau violated its own business policy in this regard.