The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday extended the interim pre-arrest bail of Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz till June 11.
A two-member bench, headed by Justice Mazahir Ali Naqvi, heard the appeals for extension in the interim bail of Hamza Shahbaz in three cases filed against him by National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Hamza, who appeared before the court during today’s hearing, is facing inquiries in the cases related to Punjab Saaf Pani Company, Ramzan Sugar Mills, money laundering and assets beyond means.
The counsel for Hamza, Azam Nazir Tarar, told the court that NAB had issued three call-up notices to his client. In the past, he said, the court had issued orders to intimate Hamza 10 days prior to his arrest.
As Advocate Tarar asked the court to defer the hearing of the case and fix a date for the same after Eidul Fitr, Justice Naqvi said that courts are there so people could get relief, making it clear the court would decide the matter today.
Tarar argued that a lawyer representing Hamza in one of three cases, Salman Aslam Butt, was abroad. The court rejected the argument, saying that the decision would be taken as per the available record.
“Slogans are being chanted in the high court every other day, is this a high court or Mochigate?” Justice Naqvi asked, adding that he had been sitting on the chair for the last 10 years but he had not passed a single biased decision.
“Why doesn’t Hamza Shahbaz join the investigation like a common man?” asked the court. The counsel replied that Hamza has been joining the probe continuously.
The bench also reprimanded the team of NAB for their lack of preparation in the case.
On April 5, the accountability watchdog had failed in its bid to arrest Hamza — in a case of money laundering and owning assets beyond means — as it faced strong resistance from the Sharif family’s security men as well as PML-N supporters.
On April 6, NAB faced another embarrassing day as its second attempt to arrest the PML-N leader remained unsuccessful. The five-hour siege of PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif’s Model Town residence by the Lahore NAB and police ended after the LHC restrained the bureau from arresting Hamza, granting him protective bail.
On May 28, a bench of the court — comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem — recused itself from hearing the case after Hamza had personally told the bench that he had reservations on the bench since NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal made the bail proceedings controversial by discussing them in a recent interview to the media.
Hamza had said the bureau’s chairman in his interview claimed to have influenced the formation of the bench. He had requested the bench to not proceed with the matter to protect integrity of the courts.
On May 29, LHC Chief Justice Sardar Muhammad Shamim Khan had entrusted proceedings on the bail petition of Hamza to another division bench comprising Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Waheed Khan.