An accountability court in Lahore on Monday acquitted Jang Group editor-in-chief Mir Shakilur Rehman in a reference of a 34-year-old illegal land allotment case.
Accountability court Judge Asad Ali announced the verdict in the case that also involves former PM Nawaz Sharif.
Additionally, former director-general of Lahore Development Authority Humayon Faiz Rasool and its former director of land development department, Mian Bashir Ahmad, have also been acquitted in the case.
Journalist Raza Rumi stated that Rehman was acquitted in a “bogus case meant to tame him”. “The farce of accountability — or witch-hunt of political opponents, media owners, etc — gets exposed every day,” he tweeted.
The development was welcomed by senior journalist Ansar Abbasi, an investigative reporter who said a “case based on lies” by the accountability watchdog was dismissed by the court.
It is pertinent to note that Rehman was arrested in March 2020 by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) after failing to satisfy their answers in a hearing regarding the case. Later, he was granted bail by the Supreme Court after around eight months in captivity.
The accountability court had in November 2020 issued perpetual arrest warrants for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif after completing the process to declare him an absconder in the same reference. Sharif had been declared an absconder for not joining the court proceedings.
The Lahore High Court had on Nov 16, 2019 allowed the former premier to travel abroad for four weeks for medical treatment.
The former PM had left for London on November 19, 2019 after he was released on bail from a seven-year sentence for corruption. Three days later he had left the country and has not returned since then.
The accountability court had also directed the NAB to initiate further proceedings under section 88 of CrPC, which entailed attachment of the movable and immovable property owned by the absconder.
The NAB in its reference had alleged that Rehman had illegally obtained exemption of 54 plots, each measuring one-kanal, situated in Block-H, Johar Town. It alleged that the allotment of the land had been made in connivance with the then chief minister of Punjab, Nawaz Sharif, in 1986 against the exemption policy and the laws for monetary gains.
It further said that the suspects caused a loss of Rs143.53 million to the national exchequer through the land allotment in violation of exemption policy.