LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday dismissed a bail petition filed by Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakilur Rahman in illegal plot allotment case.
The bench comprising Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem and Justice Farooq Haider heard the post-arrest bail petition filed by Mir Shakil. At the start of proceedings, defence counsel Advocate Amjad Pervaiz resumed his arguments and submitted that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed reference against his client and the same had been made a part of record in present proceedings.
He submitted that the bureau had alleged that Mir Shakil caused Rs143 million loss to national exchequer and obtained illegal exemption of 54 plots of one kanal in Johar Town Lahore.
The counsel claimed that his client had been arrested in a baseless case while rejecting all allegations levelled against him in the reference. He submitted that Mir Shakil obtained exemption in accordance with law in 1986 after due process and no body questioned the same till 2019. The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) never objected on exemption and neither it was a complainant in the present matter, he added.
He submitted that after 34 years period, the bureau took action on a complaint and arrested his client when he was present in NAB Lahore office. He argued that the bureau did not have the authority to hold investigations into the matter and it exceeded his jurisdiction.
He submitted that no action could be taken against Mir Shakil under NAB ordinance as LDA had its own laws and relevant courts were entitled to hear the matter.
He further submitted that besides Mir Shakil, two former LDA officials and then chief minister Punjab Nawaz Sharif was also nominated in the reference. However, the bureau had not arrested the other accused yet and it was a discriminatory step, he added.
He submitted that the bureau had completed investigation from Mir Shakil and now he was in judicial custody. He pleaded with the court for the grant of post arrest bail to his client.
However, NAB Prosecutor Syed Faisal Raza Bukhari opposed the bail petition and argued that Mir Shakil was entitled to receive 54 kanal land but he was allotted 56 kanals.
He submitted that as per exemption policy, Mir Shakil was entitled for allotment of 9 plots of 1 kanal and various small plots at three different locations. But he was allotted one kanal plots at one place in violation of the policy, he added. He submitted that as per prosecution witness Patwari Bashir Ahmad, Mir Shakil possessed 59 kanal and three marla land now.
He submitted that the LDA issued notice for the payment of Rs6.4 million dues against additional land on October 29, 1992 but the same was not paid.
He submitted that the accused did not deposit the money despite acquiring excessive land and it was the reason that he was accused of causing Rs 143 million loss to the national exchequer in the reference. He submitted that 4 kanal and two marla land for roads were included in the land allotted to Mir Shakil.
He submitted that the bureau also nominated two former LDA officials Humayun Faiz Rasool and Mian Bashir in the reference, despite the fact that they were aged and sick.
He submitted that Nawaz was abroad at present. He submitted that the bureau had approved the inquiry against Mir Shakil before amendment in NAB ordinance. The inquiry was approved in 2019, whereas, the NAB ordinance was amended in 2020. He pleaded with the court to dismiss the bail petition.
The court, after hearing detailed arguments of parties, dismissed the bail petition.
It is pertinent to mention here that LHC had previously rejected two petitions filed by Mir Shakil and his wife challenging the arrest and physical remand of Mir Shakil. The NAB had alleged that Mir Shakil obtained illegal exemption of 54 plots of one-kanal each in Johar Town Lahore, with the connivance of Nawaz, the then chief minister of Punjab, in violation of the exemption policy in 1986.