Lahore (Web Desk) The Lahore High Court on Wednesday extended for 15 days the interim pre-arrest bail of former railways minister Khwaja Saad Rafique and his brother Khwaja Salman Rafiq in a case instituted against them by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Both the brothers appeared before a division bench, along with their counsel, with a request to extend the concession of bail.
The NAB had initiated an inquiry against the Khwaja brothers in Paragon City scam. Saad Rafique is also facing inquiries with regard to railways and Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme.
Plea against Shahbaz arrest dismissed
A NAB counsel told the bench that warrants for arrest of Khwaja brothers were already issued by the bureau’s chairman in Paragon City case.
In their bail petitions, Mr Rafique and Mr Salman said they had nothing to do with the Paragon City. The petitioners said they had already provided the NAB with all the information required by the investigators, but they were being repeatedly summoned with mala fide intention.
They contended that the NAB had lost its credibility and its independence had been compromised.
They said since the ‘illegal’ arrest of Opposition leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, it had become a matter of public knowledge that the NAB officials had been abusing the process of law for political victimisation.
They said the NAB had been reduced to a tool in the hands of sitting government and resorted to victimisation of its political opponents.
The bench had previously granted interim bail to the petitioners subject to furnishing surety bonds of Rs500,000 each. Now the bench extended the bail till Nov 14.
Talking to the media outside the high court, Saad Rafiq said political opponents had been subjected to victimization under the garb of accountability.
He said some people had put the credibility of justice system at stake, adding there were frequent media reports that the government would crush its opponents in the name of accountability.
Dismissed: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition challenging arrest of opposition leader in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme scam.
A division bench comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Anwarul Haq Pannu observed that the petitioner had no locus stand to agitate the matter before the court. Senior lawyer A.K Dogar had filed the petition on behalf of Pakistan Lawyers’ Foundation.
According to Dogar, the arrest of a person during investigation and trial was inconsistent with Article 10(1) of the Constitution. He said no person could be kept in custody unless he was informed of grounds of his arrest and such grounds could only be established after completion of investigation.
The lawyer contended that no investigation was constitutionally valid unless accused had been granted the fundamental right. He said the Article 10 provided the right to be defended by a counsel at the time of investigation, which was denied to Mr Sharif.
He pointed out defense by a legal practitioner started as soon as any person was arrested. He further said the moment the investigation/inquiry was started a lawyer must be physically present during the course. He said no one could be arrested for the purpose of mere investigation.
He asked the court to declare that section 24 of the NAB ordinance that allowed chairman of the bureau to arrest an accused during investigation/inquiry was inconsistent with fundamental rights enshrined in Article 10. He further asked the court to set aside the order for the arrest of the opposition leader issued by the NAB chairman.